My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
With the words of the Risen Lord to His fearful apostles hiding behind closed doors in fear, I greet you all, “Peace be with you!”
It is with deep sadness that you gather today to mourn the loss of the lives of so many of our brothers and sisters in Sri Lanka, and those who were injured in the terrorist attack on the most holy day of our Christian celebrations. As Christians we believe that because the Lord is risen, death is not the end of everything but a passage to new life. So, in faith and love, we pray for those whose lives had perished, and for their loved ones who are left behind to pick up the pieces and to carry on with their lives, as well as for the speedy recovery of those who have been injured.
Indeed, this senseless tit-for-tat has no end. All true religions promote peace and goodwill, and see all men and women as brothers and sisters. That is why, we must not sink so low as to fall into the same vicious cycle of revenge and hatred. It may not seem possible for us in this time of raw feelings to forgive those who have so cruelly interrupted our life plans, but we take comfort that our Lord has transcended all hatred and violence and is alive!
But if we sincerely believe that Jesus is risen and has overcome sin and death, we, too, who share in His resurrected life, will demonstrate to the world that we will not overcome evil with evil, but evil with good, hatred with love, injury with forgiveness. St Peter wrote to the persecuted Christians, “if you endure when you do right and suffer for it, you have God’s approval. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in his steps. ‘He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.’ When he was abused, he did not return abuse; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly.” (1 Pt 2:20-23)
Our blessed Mother would have felt your pain and desolation of losing her only Son in a most unjust and cruel manner. The disciples, too, were fearful and thought that all hope was lost with the death of their beloved Master. But with Christ Risen, they not only found new hope, but they were emboldened to live life with new meaning. They were empowered to walk in the way of Christ, to show the world a new way of living, through mercy and forgiveness.
So in our bereavement, pain and mourning, we too must ask for God’s grace to rise again with Christ. We must console our loved ones who are now in the hands of God that we are in communion with them, whether in life or in death. Let us not remain in the tomb and behind closed doors as if we are defeated people. Let us rise with Christ after our time of mourning and, like true disciples of Christ, go out into the world and with boldness preach the gospel of peace, reconciliation, tolerance and harmony among all religions and people of goodwill.
As I share with you all your grief and pain, please be assured of my prayers for those who died or are injured or their beloved ones in this unspeakable horrific inhumane act. May the peace of the Risen Lord set you free from pain and anger and empower you to forgive and live life anew.
Devotedly yours in Christ,
Most Rev. William Goh
Archbishop of Singapore
28 April, 2019