Easter Message from Archbishop Charles Bo
of the Yangon Catholic Archdiocese on the occasion of Easter to the People
My esteemed brothers and Sisters in the rainbow nation of Myanmar,
To all of you, on behalf of all Christians, I extend a very warm Easter
Greetings. It is a significant feast for the Christians. This feast is a
feast of light of Goodness shining through darkness of Evil. Christ who was
crucified on the Cross and buried, resurrected and brought hope. Easter
celebrates Hope. The early Christians had only one feast that was Easter.
Forty days of lent, observance of fast, life with restrictions,
contemplation of the suffering of Jesus, praying the way of the Cross, holy
week observance ends with the Feast of Easter. This is not a strange feast
to our Non Christian brothers. Our Buddhist brothers have their Buddhist
lent. The Muslim Brothers have their Ramadan fast. All such seasons help
us to be better human beings, love one another in brotherly love.
Christians celebrate forty days of lent – signifying three events in Bible.
There are three ‘forty’s in Bible. A reflection on these forty days may be
relevant to Myanmar of today. I am hopeful that we shall find a common
theme in the message of Easter for our dear mother land.
1. The First forty Days : Human Suffering for forty years in the Book
2. The Second Forty Days : Jesus tested by agent of Evil in the Desert
for forty days
3. The Third Forty Days : The power of Hope brought by Jesus of
1. The first Forty : Forty years in the Desert : In the book of Exodus
in the Bible is the story of the Israelites spending 40 years in the desert.
They were slaves in Egypt. God intervenes through prophet Moses. They were
wandering in the desert for forty years. Human suffering was there in the
desert. Conflict, betrayal, distrust, frustration and loss of faith were
great problems among them. Selfishness took over and loss of concern for
the poor and the vulnerable grew. Desert signifies a ruthless place devoid
of all growth and joy of life. Those who were faithful and had belief in
God’s plan reached the Promised Land.
Myanmar stands in such juncture. Past has not been perfect. Many types of
slavery afflicted our people. Foreign intervention, Lack of
opportunities for development, lack of understanding among communities,
lack of sharing of resources, lack of appreciation of various cultures
led many to torrid deserts of hatred, deserts of poverty, deserts of
displacement, deserts of conflict, deserts of blood and hatred. A land once
glorified as golden land turned into a land of want and hatred. Many of
our people literally were on an exodus. As migrant workers in Thailand,
Malaysia and other countries. All of us were looking for a promised land of
peace and prosperity. Bible believes God always listens to the cry of the
poor and the suffering people and sends prophets and liberators.
So the Message of Easter is very simple. After a time of suffering we, as
people and nation, are to enter into a promised land. That promised land
is a land of brotherhood of all communities. The promised land is land of
karuna and Metta. Where mercy and compassion flows like a river towards our
unfortunate brothers and sisters for whom life was not easy. We can make
our land once again the Golden land, the land of promise of opportunity.
2.The second Forty of the Lent/Easter is about Jesus and his forty days
in the desert tested by the power of Evil. Christians believe Jesus is the
Son of God sent to deliver the humanity from all kinds of bondage and lead
us towards eternal reward of Bliss and Life in the happy land. Before
Jesus could start that mission, he was tested by the evil, someone like
Mara. Three temptations arose in Jesus : the temptation to power,
temptation to riches and temptation to Glory. He had to fight with these
three temptations of the ego, the ahamgara (egoism) the kelesa (the
craving for evil) of our tradition. All of us are human beings and we are
can easily become animals when we give into the animal instinct in us. In
our Myanmar tradition we have known this and try through meditation and
fasting to get rid of this self destructing instinct. Lent and Easter is
about self purification from all kinds of Kelasa, ahamgara the tendency
towards sin. Sin is hatred. Hatred is worse than a nuclear bomb.
3.The Third Forty is about Hope. Christian lent is not only about
suffering and Sin. It is about hope. The followers of Christ who witness
the death of Jesus and his way of Cross were totally shattered. But the news
that Christ rose again energized them. Christ stayed with them for forty
days encouraging them in their life and mission. Hope was born. Out of
total darkness the disciples were brought out and a new Mission started.
Myanmar is in an era of hope. After a long night of silent tears there is a
new dawn. We are a nation where seeds of hope are already sown. The
parliament discusses various issues, the streets are full of news magazines
with diverse views, peaceful negotiations for conflicts are used. Thousands
and thousands of tourists are flocking to this country. We are in a dawn
of hope. We are the fellow travelers in the journey of hope. That is the
message of Easter. The book of Isaiah has a glorious verse: the people who
have walked in Darkness have seen the light. The book of Revelation in
Bible dreams of ‘ a new heaven and new earth’ where all tears will be
wiped out and no more suffering on earth’. That dream is our dream. A
Myanmar without natural or manmade disasters. God has blessed us with a
land full of resources. We all can live happily, prosperity making this
land really a Golden land. With mutual understanding among communities,
sharing of resources, integrating justice and peace into our life and
rebuilding our human resource we can be people blessed hundred times. Choose
life, choose hope, chose a great future and that is possible. That is the
core message of Easter.
Lent and Easter Today : Forty days Christian observe the Lent, the way of
the Cross of Jesus and his crucification on the Cross. Christ died on a
Friday – Good Friday. Those are historical events. Christians believe that
Christ as the Savior died on the Cross for salvation and liberation of human
beings. Christianity teaches us Christ is a living God, Immanuel, God
with us. Where is this God today? Where is the God who carries the Cross,
Where is the God who rose again, Where is that God who walked with the
Israelites who were liberated from slavery?
Good Friday People : God is with us today. Lent is forty days for all of
us. For many of our suffering people lent is 365 days and their way of the
Cross is unending, their suffering is unending. All the suffering people,
people without food, shelter, proper schooling, proper health are people of
lent. They are the crucified people today. Poverty is a cross,
powerlessness is a Cross, war is a cross, displacement is a cross. Christ
suffering continues in our brothers and sisters. We need to recognize them
and help them from their permanent lent and cross. For many of these
people there is no Easter, there is no liberation, there is no light.
Easter urges all of us to help in the new life for these unfortunate
brothers and sisters in our dear mother land.
People of Exodus : Myanmar is the mother to all of us. But all of us do
not live in her protection today. Thousands are on their exodus – away from
their homeland. The IDPs, refugees, the migrants, the Illegal migrants who
went in search of better prospects and ended up in modern forms of
slavery are our own people on exodus. They need to come back to the bosom
of mother Myanmar. Everyone needs to return home. Easter is returning
home, going to the Promised land of peace, prosperity and human development
for all .
People of Hope : The longest night always ends in a dawn. Hope is the
power of life. Easter is the message of Hope. As the country turns a new
page in her history, every son and daughter of dear Mother Myanmar needs to
generate hope. We are a generation of hope. We learn from the past but do
not return to the past. The future is exciting, full of promises and full of
hope. Hope gives power. When Jesus died on the Cross his disciples were
disheartened, frightened, frustrated and even ran away. But when Jesus rose
again and appeared to them, a new energy sprang in their heart and a new
dream pervaded their minds. They carried that dream of love and fellowship
to corners of the earth. They worked wonders. Hope is a miracle maker. As
people of Myanmar, we are entering into an era of hope. Myanmar was once a
land of promise to all the nations. It had its own Exodus, its own way of
the Cross. But as a nation, we are emerging as a people of hope, a nation
of confidence, our date with destiny has arrived. We need to banish the
past wounds and bad memories. Myanmar wears the mantle of hope today, once
again attracting world attention. May the Easter blessings bring peace,
reconciliation, prosperity and fellowship to our dear mother land.
Archbishop Charles Bo