By Bishop Gerard Holohan, Diocese of Bunbury
What troubled times we are experiencing as Catholics!
Yet Easter reminds us that Christ is with us and suffers in us. Most of all, it reminds us that our sufferings can bring blessings if we offer them with Christ for others.
Christ is in us
When St Paul was challenged by the Risen Jesus on the road to Damascus, Jesus did not ask ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting my Church?’ but ‘Why are you persecuting me?’ [Acts 9:4’]. St Paul saw belief in the presence of Christ in each of us through baptism as a test of faith: ‘Examine yourselves. Do you not recognise yourselves as people in whom Jesus Christ is present?’ [2 Corinthians 13:5].
We Catholics are suffering humiliation, embarrassment and shame because of the crimes of some priests in the past and the negligence of some Bishops.
In addition, we have been traumatised by the conviction of Cardinal Pell and the tragic death of Fr Joseph Tran. Many, especially our young, are experiencing peer ridicule and pressures against remaining Catholic.
The trials of our time
The trials of all of us are the trials of Christ. He suffers first in the sufferings of survivors of child sexual abuse. None of us can appreciate fully what they have been – or are going – through, along with their loved ones.
Christ suffers too in our priests and in the hurt of Catholics. We are suffering due to the sins and negligence of others – none of which we knew about or had control over.
What does the Risen Jesus say to us in the current climate?
The Risen Jesus affirms us, as he did the Apostles during the Last Supper, as those ‘who have stood by me faithfully with me in my trials’ [Luke 22:28]. Instead of giving up our religious practice, we stand by him too when we encourage and support each other in this time.
The Risen Jesus invites us to unite our sufferings with his. Innocent though he was, he won the blessings of redemption for humanity by taking on himself the sins of others [John 1:29]. Like him, we are suffering, though innocent of past abusers of the young.
Let us share our sufferings with the Risen Jesus, therefore, this Easter, confident that he will affirm us.
And let us offer them with him to God our Father so that our sufferings will bring blessings to others.