Bishop Alan Williams sm has recorded an Easter Reflection. This was first broadcast on BBC Essex on Easter Sunday.
In it, he says: “I enjoy Lent because it is a time of reflection, a time of preparation and a time of prayer. However, this has been a Lent like no other: we have come from COVID and its anxieties to the terrible events in Ukraine. The suffering of people there and elsewhere has dominated my Lent because I have had to try to make sense of what is going on in a world where we hope for the joy of God’s gifts, the celebration of the life of God and the life of humanity.”
Despite the tragedy, the awfulness of the images, though, there have been astonishing acts of bravery and an attempt to find life in the midst of death, he says. “That is a very Lenten theme. In the Catholic Church we take the readings from the Gospel of John, who traces the journey of Christ to the cross, talking all of the time about truth as opposed to falsity, love as opposed to hate. When we are confronted by these really big issues, it can daunt us, but I find immense solace and consolation in the fact that Christ has been there before us. He went to his suffering and his cross, and as we celebrate today, moved on to the Resurrection.”
“I think overwhelmingly that suffering and death are not the last word. As a man of faith, I see that in the life of Christ and in the life of the Church, but I would invite everybody to look for life in the midst of death, for the great things, the good things, the positive things, when so easily we could be dragged elsewhere. The reason, I think, is that human beings, no matter where we are, in England or Ukraine or wherever, need to be a people who can somehow talk of life, can talk of growth, can make a humanity that is worth living for our children and those who come after us.”
He talks about Pope Francis’ favourite word of recent years – ‘joy’. “People who know Christ, who can be comfortable in their own skin and own humanity, radiate joy. Some people have a hard time in life, yes, the war, but also ill-health, the economic challenges facing us and so on. But it is important, no matter who we are, for us to flourish if we can. The most amazing people for me are those I meet who are really having a hard time but still radiate joy. They make me feel small but also immensely encouraged. It is possible to find life in the midst of all that is difficult.”
He referred to his forthcoming pilgrimage to Lourdes with the HCPT, a children’s charity. “We will experience great joy despite the challenges and that is a message to me that it is a good thing to be a person of positivity: it can be infectious and contagious in a good way. My prayer this Easter Day for all listeners, for people around the world who are suffering or having difficulties, is that something of the light of Easter, the life of Christ may be with them and they may move forward into a better place by the grace of God and the prayers of us all.”