Once again, we find ourselves heading towards Easter. The weather appears to be changing, school children are on holidays and a long weekend beckons.
This coming extra-long weekend offers many distractions. Who wants to dwell on themes of betrayal, torture and death when faced with rest and recreation? Why not simply skip from that final meal Jesus had with his disciples and head to the celebration of his resurrection?
Instead of experiencing fun and pleasure we have, this year, a sober Easter context about wounded humanity and violence, whether it be the chemical bombing in Syria or its American response, the killing in Stockholm or the bombing of Coptic churches in Egypt.
As Pope Francis has said, ‘The world is at war because it has lost peace.’ We are part of that world at war. We have lost peace.
How do we make sense of the continual bombardment of pain we see daily being inflicted on others? What of that violence that then triggers more violence? What do we think of those suffering at our door such as the people on Manus Island and Nauru in our offshore prisons? Where is our peace?
Jesus carrying his cross is not a pretty sight. Betrayed, abandoned, bloodied, tortured and finally crucified. No dignity or glory. No hero to suddenly appear and free him. No immediate judgement or punishment of his persecutors. It is sad. It is painful. We see human nature at its worst and weakest.
Jesus accepts and carries his cross. He shows no violence in response. He trusts his Father and surrenders.
We can be tempted like the disciples to run away from what we see and hear. Or, like Peter, simply deny any involvement. It takes courage to face violence or, like the women in the gospel, stand together in solidarity at the cross.
Fortunately, we too stand together. As Pope Francis washes feet, Christians walk in procession on Good Friday and new people enter the Christian church and are baptised, we wait together in hope to hear the word with which He first greeted his disciples after His resurrection, ‘Peace!’
We can only imagine the joy with which people in Syria, Stockholm, Egypt, Manus Island and Nauru would hear the word and greet the reality of peace. This Easter we pray for their peace and for our renewed hope.
Fr Brian F. McCoy SJ, Provincial