Easter Message, 2014 - Archbishop Douglas Young, Archbishop of Mount Hagen
This year my thoughts turn to a passage from the New Testament that forms part of every Easter Vigil, St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans, chapter 6, verses 3-11.
In the liturgy of the Eater Vigil, several readingsfromthe Old Testament take us through the history of our salvation, from the creation, through the election of the Jewish people, and their hopes for a Messiah who would free them from all bondage. At the end of the Old Testament readings we sing the ancient hymn, the Gloria for practically the first time since Lent began. Then we have this reading from Romans followed by the joyful Alleluia, also marking the end of Lent, and we listen to the gospel story of Jesus’ resurrection. In the passage from Romans, St Paul reminds us that through ourbaptism we die with Christ in order to rise with him to an entirely new life. Our old sinful self is ended and we are truly born again, entirely new people.We are to think of ourselves as dead as far as sin is concerned, but living in a new community with God through our risen brother Jesus. Paul goes on to explain that this new life and new relationship is a pure gift, not something we could ever earn by our own efforts.
This message means a lot to me as we face thereality of the situation in our country. Although we have many signs of new life in active church life and many acts of kindness and generosity, we also have many very serious signs of death and dying. The mostserious of thesemustbe the creeping corruption that we now begin to face almost daily. Wherethere is corruption there is bribery. Apartfrom those who pay bribes to get something they have no right to, we increasinglyhaveto pay bribes to get what we are actually entitled to. Bribery flies in the face of the authenticChristian attitude of generosity which St Paul is speakingabout. Briberymust have no place in a Christiancountry which celebrates the factthat the greatest gift of all is givenfreely to those who ask for it in faith.
I have only one prayer this Easter, that all who call themselvesChristians, born again in the waters of baptism,would truly turn from sin daily more and more, especially the sin of bribery, askingfor bribes or “incentives” and giving them. May we all begin tolive truly the life of someone who is born again to a new life, who not only carries out their duties and responsibilitieshonestly but has space left for the same kind of generous lovingkindnesstowards others that has been shown to them in the free offer of new life in Christ. Easter celebrates the fact that Jesus Christ is risen from the dead, and sin and death have no more power. Why would a disciple of Jesus want to return to the path of death characterised bybribery and corruption. Happy Easter!