In a sea of despair, hate and injustice, focus on the good, spread “seeds of hope” and adopt a lifestyle of loving even when “our lives can seem loveless,” Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle said in his Easter message.
“We invite you to seize the power of love unleashed by the risen Christ this Easter. Love is not just a word, it is a lifestyle of seeing, encountering and understanding other people,” the Manila archbishop said.
Like the orphan boy from the 1960s musical “Oliver Twist,” he added, Jesus must have felt abandoned after he was betrayed, tortured and sentenced to die on the cross, or also like ordinary people when they encounter difficulties in their personal lives.
Tagle said, “Christ must have asked the same question on the cross when he cried out, ‘My God, why have you forsaken me?’ Where was love when Jesus was betrayed, abandoned by his friends and crucified like an animal?”
Two of his disciples and supposed friends, Peter and Judas Iscariot, betrayed him, causing him to be ridiculed, beaten and executed without due process among robbers by the government for allegedly committing blasphemy and sedition because he challenged the authority of false prophets and priests.
Peter disowned Jesus and denied knowing him on the day that he was arrested by armed guards, while Judas disclosed Christ’s whereabouts to chief priests and scribes in exchange for 30 pieces of silver.
Tagle said when “hunger, unemployment, addictions, indignities, abuse, hate speech, false accusations, killing, corruption, human trafficking run wild and seem to reign, our world appears dark.”
“But if we look more carefully, more intently at people and situations, it is then that we see love revealing itself,” he added.
The cardinal said of Jesus’ journey to the cross and beyond, he was surrounded by “intense moments of love” from his mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary; John, who waited at the foot of the cross; the penitent thief, who asked to be remembered when he returns to his kingdom; Joseph Arimathea, who overcame his fear of being his open follower when he asked for his body; the women who tended to his tomb; Nicodemus, who applied myrrhs and aloes to his wounds; and Pontius Pilate who was cited as saying in Luke 23:4, “I find no fault with this man.”
Tagle added that small acts of kindness, care and love are not so small or “insignificant” in the grand scheme of things.
“They can make all the difference in ways we cannot imagine,” he said.
Tagle added that as followers of Jesus who “tended the poor, healed the sick and welcomed the outcasts,” Christians are called to “see people and their situations with understanding, compassion and solidarity… without pretensions of having the answer to all their problems.”
It is through these encounters of love and caring that transform families and families from prisoners of despair to bearers of hope, he said.
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