Decrying extreme poverty, discrimination, conflict, displacement and other ills that still continue to plague Myanmar, the country’s cardinal has appealed to the rulers, the army, armed groups and religious leaders of the south-east Asian nation to let peace and hope be resurrected in their land. “Come let us join together to roll down all the mighty stones of despair from our life and bring the hope of Easter to this nation,” Cardinal Charles Bo appealed in an Easter message, entitled, “Let Peace Rise from the Ashes of Hatred. Let Easter be a new morning of Hope in Myanmar.” The cardinal who is Archbishop of Yangon said he visited the states of Kachin and Rakhine, where he was pained to see a chronic conflict hitting the poor hardest. Extreme poverty, displacement, refugees, unsafe migration, drugs and human trafficking are plaguing the people, especially the poor, he said. “We urge the rulers of this country, the army and the armed groups, roll down the stones of conflict. Let peace be resurrected,” Card. Bo appealed. “As we celebrate Easter, we call upon the religious leaders of this country to rise above all narrow interest and bring the hope of resurrection,” the cardinal added.
Please find below the full text of Cardinal Charles Bo’s Easter message:
Let Peace Rise from the Ashes of Hatred! Let Easter be a new Morning of Hope in Myanmar
Easter Message from His Excellency Charles Cardinal Bo.,
Archbishop of Yangon
Happy Easter! Hope is an overflowing stream in human hearts. After forty days of Lent a new dawn is in our lives. Christ is risen Alleluia! The Easter vigil reminded us about how the light dispels inner and outer darkness in our lives. I wish you that all darkness of sin, selfishness, conflict, poverty and human suffering may be dispelled by the great mystery of Resurrection. With St Paul we affirm today: the Resurrection is the core of our faith.
I wish every one of you the joy felt by women when they met the angels in the tomb, the joy they felt when they saw the stone rolled away and when they saw an empty grave. Christ suffering ended in great glory. As Fr Timothy Radcliff OP says, resurrection has changed the way we see God, we see one another. It is the risen Savior standing in front of you, my dear sisters and brothers, and uttering the great words he said to Martha, "I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. (John 11: 25). With Peter we proclaim today, “We are saved not by gold or silver but by the blood of the Lamb.” Christianity is not only about the way of the Cross. Christianity is about the mountain of hope. Easter has put us on the mountain of hope. Let us celebrate God’s Hope today. The early Church had only one feast: Easter and Christians celebrated this feast for full 40 days.
Easter is time for spiritual nourishment
The readings of Easter Vigil nourish all of us with the great spiritual nourishment. We finished forty days of lent, we will observe 40 days of resurrection till Jesus ascends into heaven. These forty days are based on the three forty days we find in the Bible. These three forty days theme should give us deep spiritual guidance in our personal life:
Exodus: The book of Exodus speaks of God delivering the Jews who were oppressed by the Egyptian kings. Moses led them through the desert for forty years before they reached the promised land. In our own lives we face many deserts: deserts of sin, deserts of hatred, deserts of poverty, deserts of oppression, deserts of despair…. Pope Benedict talked about ‘inner deserts’ - all of us undergo the desert experience of being abandoned and long suffering. May this Easter bring hope to each one of us that it is God who told Moses that he would be with us, bless us today and be with us all through our life.
Jesus in the Desert: Christ is in the desert. He is tempted. He needed forty days for fighting evil. The devil tries to tempt Jesus to be selfish and not to fulfill his mission. We are tempted and often we are in the desert of temptation in our life, in sin, in selfishness and running after wealth and power. Resurrection tells each one of us: Christ is enough. The disciples were empowered not with gold and silver but the power of a living God.
Resurrected Jesus with the disciples: After resurrection, Jesus stayed with his disciples for forty days encouraging them. During his ministry the disciples walked with him, witnessed his miracles, heard his good news. But when difficulties came they ran away and found it difficult to believe in his ministry. We are often in similar situations. Christ is the center of our lives, yet when difficulties come we are faced with unbelief. Resurrection is an assurance, that the living Christ never abandons us. The disciples became fearless proclaiming Good news to all. The risen Christ is our hope. For those of us buried in the tomb of suffering, resurrection is an event of encouragement.
Message of Easter to our Land
What is the message of Easter to our land, Myanmar? So many good things have happened in the last five years. Like Christ resurrection was witnessed by women, his message of hope was brought to the disciples by women. This country came out of long years of way of the cross through the intervention of a woman. The stone that covered the tomb was removed by the moral courage of a woman. We do think from the tomb of oppression, our country has seen hope of resurrection.
SHALOM – The Peace of the Resurrection
But the message of Resurrection has not reached all. There is war. Conflict and displacement in Kachin and Rakhine states. There are thousands of refugees. The resurrected Christ brought a great message: Shalom. I pray for Shalom - Christ used this to greet his disciples after His Resurrection. “Peace be unto you” (Luke 24: 36-38). The is a great word used by Christ after His Resurrection. Shalom means peace, prosperity, harmony and joy. Recently, I visited Rakhine and Kachin states. The chronic conflict in these areas have affected the poor. Extreme poverty is forcing our youngsters to adopt unsafe migration. Drugs and human trafficking plays great havoc. Our people are buried in the tombs of poverty. Our people are buried in the tombs of despair. Easter is the time to say “roll down the stone that keeps our people dead”. Bring in peace to our land, let Shalom flow in the mountains and valleys of Myanmar. Myanmar needs Shalom. Many thousands were crucified to poverty, many of our people are Good Friday people, knowing only suffering. Many of our people are buried in many problems which are like tombs. Myanmar awaits the resurrection from its past and live in the shalom of Easter. Inner peace, peace in the families, peace among communities!
Roll down the stones from various tombs of Myanmar
Mark in his Gospel talks about the anxiety of women who were going to the tomb of Jesus. The tomb was sealed with a huge stone. To see Jesus and anoint his body the women needed someone to roll down the huge stone. The women were asking among themselves: “Who will roll the stone for us?” But to their surprise the stone was already rolled and they found a young man. “Christ has moved to Galilee”, From death to life, from despair to victory over death.
Yes, Myanmar was once crucified. Our people were called Good Friday people. Many thought there is no resurrection. But the country has ‘moved’ from some tombs. But we need to roll down many stones. Who will roll down the stone for the people of Myanmar so that they can encounter the Christ of peace and harmony? The Church in Myanmar works with all the people of Myanmar to roll the heavy stones and make the resurrection of hope a reality. There are some more stones to be rolled down and move towards the Good News.
Roll all the stones conflicts and move to the house of Peace: This country is buried in war, conflicts and displacements. Millions are affected. Peace is possible. This year we are organizing the national peace conference. We urge the rulers of this country, the army and the armed groups, roll down the stones of conflict. Let peace be resurrected.
Roll the stones of hatred and move to the house of love: Those who preach hatred continue to poison the mind of our people. These people have brought sorrow to the innocent and a bad name to the country. We urge all, especially the religious leaders to roll down the stones of hatred and move to the house of love.
Roll the stones of division and move to the house of unity: We are a rainbow nation. But those who wish to destroy the diversity of the nation are the direct cause for conflict and war. We urge that this nation roll down the stone of discrimination and treat everyone full citizen of this country. Let equality be resurrected!
Roll down stones that prevent the development of people: This country needs development, education, good health and livelihood. Wrong policies have buried our youngsters in the tomb of despair. We pray the authorities roll down all stones that prevent our youngsters full development. Let the life of our youngsters be resurrected through the right to education and development. Move towards building people!
Roll down the stones of injustice and move towards a just society: Pope Francis attacked an economy that ‘excludes’ the poor. The economy does not serve the poor but the poor serve the economy, the Pope says. The economic condition of our people continue to be dismal with more than 40 percent extremely poor. The rich nation has the poorest people in Asia. In this Easter Season, we pray that this nation may roll down all unjust economic stones that do not allow justice to the weak and the vulnerable. Myanmar’s resurrection is based on its ability to become a just society.
The mission entrusted to religious people of Myanmar
Christ entrusted his mission to his disciples after resurrection. His work of the Kingdom was carried on by his disciples since the power of resurrection energized them. People without any power and wealth were the first apostles who could bring about a great change in the history of the world. As we celebrate Easter, we call upon the religious leaders of this country to rise above all narrow interest and bring the hope of resurrection. We
are 16 dioceses, more than 700 priests and 2000 religious. We appeal to all the Buddhist religious: there are around 500,000 monks ( almost equal to the number in Myanmar Army) and 70,000 Buddhist nuns. Also the protestant churches have hundreds of pastors, the other religions have their own religious leaders. Come let us join together to roll down all the mighty stones of despair from our life and bring the hope of Easter to this nation.
Let Peace Rise from the Ashes of Hatred! Let Easter be a new morning of Hope in Myanmar!
SHALOM – PEACE - HAPPY EASTER.