“Peace be with you!”
The Jesuit Institute wishes you all a very happy Easter!
During this week, we reflect on how the news of the resurrection spreads. The women, the first to witness the resurrection, waste no time in going back to the disciples and proclaiming the resurrection to them.
The Gospels tell us how, after the resurrection, the disciples locked themselves away in fear. Their story is our story. In these days when we celebrate the resurrection, we too remain locked away, isolated from one another, separated from loved ones, and fearful of what might happen as COVID-19 spreads in our country and around the world.
However, despite the lockdown, we, God’s people, have reason to hope. Preaching at the Easter Vigil on Saturday night Pope Francis said that there is one thing that cannot be taken from us: hope. “It is a new and living hope that comes from God. It is not mere optimism; it is not a pat on the back or an empty word of encouragement. It is a gift from heaven, which we could not have earned on our own.” The Holy Father went on to say that “Jesus plants in our hearts the conviction that God is able to make everything work for good, because even from the grave he brings life.”
The disciples learn this when, in their isolation and lockdown, Jesus stands among them and says “Peace be with you!”
We are invited, in the midst of lockdown and all the legitimate worries we have, to hear the risen Lord say to each of us “Peace be with you!” God can make everything work for good!
In the days ahead, take up the Scriptures and read those resurrection narratives. So many of them come alive, they are our story, as we live in these tumultuous and difficult lockdown times.
The Institute will continue the series The Journey for the period of the lockdown. This week we are reflecting on the following themes: powerlessness, children and lockdown, the tricks our minds play on us, messaging and a way to deal with difficult emotions. An edition is released every day at midday on our website. Please feel free to share the short videos with others.
Our daily reflections by email continue this week. Feel free to share them too!
Our online news platform, spotlight.africa, is regularly updated and offers news stories, reflections and perspectives from people all over the country. Take a look when you get the chance.
We have been broadcasting Mass. Many priests and parishes have also started to do this. The power of media that is at the service of us all for the common good is something we must be grateful for. The creativity of priests and parishes to stay in touch is something we applaud. Priests and people are trying really hard to connect and provide Holy Mass, reflections and build community. We are learning, thanks to communications media, a new way of being church at this time.
We will continue to broadcast Sunday Mass. We encourage you, where you can, to be part of your own parish community and tune in to Masses on offer.
In these difficult times The Southern Cross – the Catholic weekly – cannot print. They have generously offered free digital access to anyone. Please log onto their website for the latest news from around the country and support them in this difficult time. Take out a subscription!
Finally and importantly, we are concerned about the toll the lockdown is taking on the poor. People are going hungry. They cannot feed their children. Some communities have run out of, or cannot afford, food parcels. We must all try to find ways in which we can assist those who are hungry and abandoned at this time. This is our best witness to the resurrection: being in solidarity with those who suffer most. Jesus tells us starkly in Matthew’s Gospel that when we do not feed a hungry brother or sister, we do not feed Him (Matt 25:31-46).
An idea might be to pack a food parcel that can be collected and taken to those who need? Or make a financial contribution to a reputable institution that can help? We can all do something. We can all witness to the resurrection by giving what we can now.
We also pray for all those infected and affected daily. We pray for those in essential services, thanking them and their families for their tireless work and sacrifice.
If you need to talk, as the lockdown gets longer and more difficult, we have trained spiritual directors we can connect you with. This will be treated as confidential. Contact us for help.
Let us not allow the stress and the strain of lockdown to rob us of the joy and hope of the resurrection. Let us hear Jesus say to us “Peace be with you” and let us, in turn, say to each other “Peace be with you”. He who is risen conquers all!
Remember to keep safe – be intentional about hygiene and social distancing.
May the risen Jesus bless you all. Be assured of our closeness and prayer for you at this time.
Fr Russell Pollitt SJ
Director: Jesuit Institute South Africa
Fr Russell Pollitt SJ
Fr Russell Pollitt SJ is the Director of the Jesuit Institute and is interested in the impact that communications technology has on society and spirituality. He regularly comments on South African Politics and various issues in the Catholic Church.
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