11 April 2014

Finding the meaning of
Easter in times of stress

The High School, Zion Road, Rathgar, Dublin

Patrick Comerford

The High School, Dublin,

10 April 2014

What does Easter mean for you?

If you were honest, for some of you it’s going to be a time for relaxation, and for your first real holiday since Christmas. With the extra promise of sunshine, Easter looks like being a good break for many of you.

But for some of you, Easter may also be a time of anxiety and extra pressures. You have already had many of your oral exams, and now instead of having a break many of you are probably going to use this time for extra study, and pile on your anxieties about the looming exams that many of you fear is going to decide your future.

I am not surprised if for many of you the real meaning of Easter is going to pass you by.

I saw a sign outside the Orchard Inn in Rathfarnham this morning proclaiming boldly that it going to be open all day on Good Friday.

This sort of sign produces two strong reactions among adults that shows even when you have left school, graduated, and found a job, many adults can still behave like teenagers.

The first reaction is from those who rejoice in being able to do something that was once regarded as illicit if not immoral – spending all day in a pub on Good Friday.

The other reaction is from people who encircle their religious beliefs with their symbolic wagons – always a sign of insecurity and immaturity – and bemoan the fact that society is becoming more and more secular.

But even religious people often fail to understand the true significance of Good Friday and Easter. I remember someone a parish some years ago offering me sympathy because I would be “working” throughout a Bank Holiday and have no chance to get away.

Now that Cadbury’s crème eggs can be bought long before Lent begins, the significance of Good Friday and Easter lie not in opening pubs or opening Easter eggs, in whether you have to work hard or get time off.

At the heart of this season is the fact that God loves you, and that each and every one of you is worth loving, no matter how you feel about yourself or how others try to make you feel about yourself.

I spent most of yesterday at a funeral in a border parish in Co Fermanagh. You have all known someone who died. Perhaps a grandparent, a parent, a sibling, an aunt or uncle, even a friend.

And you will wonder, over the next few years, what is the meaning and value of a life after someone has died. You will even come to ask that question of yourself.

Am I worth more than the length of my own life?

Am I worth more than how useful I am to other people?

Am I worth more in life, even if others turn away from me or bully me?

Yes, the answer is always Yes.

And God knows the answer is Yes.

When God looks at you, every time God looks at you, God sees you as being made in God’s image and likeness.

And when God sees you hurt or broken, God knows what it is like to be hurt, broken, dejected, broken inside though no-one else can see that, because God knows what Good Friday is like, and so God loves you even more.

For those of you who have good parents, they will have worried about you when you are sick, when you are down, when you are hurting. And they will have wished so many times that they could suffer that for you so that you would not have to suffer at all.

That’s exactly what God does through Jesus Christ on Good Friday – takes on everything that could be possibly wrong in our lives.

But the Good News lies in Easter.

No matter how bad things are for you now – or in the future – God always says that there is Easter. And God always says that no matter what others think of you, sometimes even no matter what you think of yourself, that you are worth loving, that God loves you.

That for me is at the heart of Good Friday and Easter – no matter what, God loves you, and you are worth loving.

Canon Patrick Comerford was speaking at the end-of-term assembly in the High School, Rathgar, Dublin, on Friday 10 April 2014.

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