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Easter 2022 – “Christ is the ally of human beings, the companion who shares our fate”, says Cardinal De Kesel

Easter is par excellence the feast of hope and joy. This hope and this joy are however tempered this year, not only because of the still present consequences of the pandemic but also because we have been confronted for weeks with a war on the European continent. We thought that such a thing was no longer possible with us, with more aggressiveness and unprecedented brutality. A war that solves nothing and sows only death and destruction.

And yet Easter brings a message of joy. But not a superficial or cheap joy. As if we Christians live in a world apart, centered on ourselves and blind to what is happening in the world. As if faith were a purely private matter with no relevance to life in society. No, this is not the time for careless joy. We work for a more humane and fairer world. Because there is so much injustice, poverty, the threat of famine in Africa, so many hotbeds of war and violence in the world, so much abuse of power, so much suffering and sadness, so much powerlessness.

When we see all this and think about it, when we see the harm that human beings are capable of doing to their neighbour, we can wonder if there really is a new possible future for humanity and for the world, if in the future it will not always be so as it was in the past. Is a more humane and fairer society really possible? Because that is the question: what is the meaning of our existence if there is so much injustice and absurdity?

Easter brings a message of hope to the heart of all these questions and challenges. God does not abandon us. I know that these are big words that can seem hollow, like a cliché. Yet they express well the meaning and the very intention of our faith: God is not indifferent. He knows the misery and sorrow of men. He knows their pain. He hates evil and loves good. The injustice done to men touches Him in the heart. A war in his name is hypocrisy, abuse, blasphemy.

He is in every sense of the word a human God. It is even in the literal sense of the term: it has effectively taken on our human condition, become similar to us. He shared this fragile existence. He knows helplessness and suffering from within and not by hearsay. He experienced it in his flesh. He knows what injustice is: he himself was the victim of abuse of power and violence. He did not end as a winner but as a victim. No, Easter does not bring cheap joy. Easter has knowledge of Good Friday.

But the reverse is just as true: it is Easter that gives meaning to this Friday. If Christ is not risen, writes Saint Paul, our faith is empty and baseless. Jesus is then only the umpteenth proof of the tragic character of our existence. But here is the message of Easter: nonsense and injustice do not have the last word. Neither does death. It was believed that with his conviction the matter was heard. Not in the eyes of God.

Paschal faith does not carry us into an imaginary world. If Easter brings joy, it is because it invites us to solidarity. For this is how Christ conquered absurdity and death: by becoming a man, a man for others. It is only by being a man with and for others, by being close and united, that a way out is possible. Only love can save us. Christ precedes us on this path. He is the ally of the human being, the companion who shares our fate. He is our hope and our peace. This was already his message when he began his ministry and when he said: “Blessed are the hungry for justice and the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God”. When, after his death, he went, Risen, to meet his disciples, these were always his first words: “peace be with you”. It is this peace that I wish for you. Holy Easter.