CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 9 September 2017

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Immersion in Easter

THERE ARE MANY messages contained in the rich Easter liturgies, but undoubtedly their seeds are to be found in the preparatory period of Holy Week in the stories of Lazarus being raised from the dead and the cure of the man born blind.

Both stories contain a challenge; like Lazarus we are challenged to allow others to unbind us from our prejudices, comfort zones and self-centredness; and like the man born blind to open our eyes to the pain and suffering of those that we have chosen to look upon only with blind eyes.

It is easy to sit through the Easter liturgies reflecting on the terrible things done to Jesus and condemn the Jewish and Roman authorities for the barbarism they demonstrated throughout the Passion of the Christ.

However, he was not the only person subjected to the same treatment and, as we saw demonstrated by the Jesuit Father Sebastien Rodrigues contemplating trampling on the crucifix in the movie Silence, when God eventually did speak in a language he could understand, he said, “It was to be trampled on by men that I was born into this world. It was to share men’s pain that I carried my cross.”

This is the Christ that the liturgies of Easter call us to follow. Easter calls us to carry our cross by sharing the pain of our neighbour. This is how we live out the paradox that is the Easter mystery.

Hong Kong is an ultra-modern city. It can reclaim harbours, build bridges over sea, tunnels under land allowing trains to shoot large numbers of people long distances quickly.

It can erect buildings that hide their apex in the misty clouds and gleaming shopping malls that purvey the finest of cloth, jewellery and manufacture in the world.

But while it has one of the highest per capita incomes, it also has the widest disparity of income of any jurisdiction anywhere, leaving a sizeable portion of the population in a continual search for a roof over their heads and food to place on the table.

The mystery of Easter questions the priorities of a society that can find ways to span vast seas at a single bound, but not ways to accommodate its people at a reasonable standard of living.

Within the Church, Caritas struggles to expose this exclusion of so many struggling people, who for reasons often of not having a place to lay their heads, domestic violence, drug or alcohol abuse, physical or mental illness, as well as family breakdown find themselves outside of the economic support systems.

A symposium sponsored by Caritas in 2014 exposed a new form of poverty that has evolved in our midst, which draws a tight connection between homelessness and poverty, as it does not allow a person to have control of or access to space for social relations.

Easter is not just a call to reflect on the suffering of Christ, but to connect his suffering with that of those for whom he came into this world to carry his cross.

We call for social justice, but it begins with allowing ourselves to be untied from our ignorance and prejudice and allowing our eyes to be opened to what is happening around us and the willingness to share the pain. JiM