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Easter Message of Fr. Paulus Budi Kleden

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02 April 2021

Dear confreres, sisters, lay mission partners, friends, benefactors and relatives,

We are celebrating in these days the fundamentals of our faith: the life, suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, our Brother and Lord. Saint Paul writes in his first letter to the Corinthians: “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is pointless” (15:17). Easter demonstrates that God loves us so much, that by becoming human he really participates in our experiences of the darkness of suffering and the agony of death, and opens for us the perspective for a new, transformed life. This message of solidarity and hope we need to celebrate and proclaim, also this year, as for the second time we celebrate Easter constrained by the special regulations in the wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Easter is the feast of passing over: Jesus passes over from suffering and death into the glory of resurrection. As baptized, all of us participate in this paschal mystery of Jesus; we are brought from the darkness of desperation into the light of salvation. As missionaries, lay people and religious alike, we are called and empowered to be signs of passing over in our world, to give witness with our deeds and words that transformation to a new life is possible.

I would like to recall what the 13th General Chapter of the SVD in 1988 spoke about passing over. The chapter envisioned the threefold passing over as a new mission paradigm which characterizes our missionary life and ministry.

The first is PASSING OVER TO OTHER CULTURES. The resurrected Lord inspires the disciples to cross the borders of their own cultures and go to all nations to proclaim this hope-enkindling message. The proclamation of this message gathers us as brothers and sisters from different cultural backgrounds. It inspires us to build communities where cultural differences are not reason for suspicion and separation, but a lasting invitation to enjoy the richness with which humanity has been blessed. The Chapter document says: “We live out the Paschal Mystery when we do not cling to our own culture, language, or way of thinking and pass over to a culture different from our own. We empty ourselves of prejudice and exaggerated nationalism or regionalism and are filled with the joy of glimpsing the presence of God in the other, in the unknown, in the unfamiliar.”

The second is PASSING OVER TO THE POOR. Easter manifests to us that God truly takes the side of the poor, the marginalized and the victims. The resurrected Lord is the crucified Jesus. There is no salvation when the victims are denied, not listened to and cared for. In times of crisis like this of COVID-19 Pandemic, Easter shall inspire and strengthen us to be close to the poorest of our society, such as daily workers in many parts of the world. The chapter reminds us that “To be able to sustain this passing over to the poor, the following experiences and attitudes are essential: a profound experience of God as the source of all compassion, the realization of one's own inner poverty and powerlessness, the need for continual conversion of heart, and the belief that the poor possess the power to shape their own destiny. Basic to this whole human interplay is a deep respect for the dignity of every human being.”

The third is PASSING OVER IN DIALOGUE. Easter is an encounter. The risen Lord breaks the walls the disciples have built, in fear of others. He encounters them and encourages them to go out and encounter others. Fear enslaves, leads us to thinking of all others as enemies who want to harm us. Living in fear is a living surrounded by phantoms. Dialogue and encounter help us to see, understand and respond to the reality. Dialogue creates collaboration to address the common issues of human family. In the chapter document we read, “We live out the Paschal Mystery in dialogue with believers of other religious traditions and followers of contemporary ideologies when we pass over from mutual suspicion to mutual trust. Our trust is rooted in the conviction that the Word is already present wherever people sincerely seek the Truth. Our attitude in all phases of dialogue must be one of openness, hospitality, and patience.”

Dear confreres, sisters, lay mission partners, friends, benefactors and relatives, When we sing alleluia and light the candle of joy and hope, let us remember all those who have lost their lives during this period of pandemic, especially our 21 confreres, our sisters, relatives, friends, benefactors and collaborators. We keep praying for them and for all those who are mourning for them. We are also united with more than 300 of our confreres, and all others who were or still are positive with the virus. Our prayers are for confreres and all those, who are going through the darkness and bitterness for certain reasons. May they and all of us experience the passing over with the risen Lord.

Happy Easter to all of you!

P. Budi Kleden, SVD
Superior General