Easter: Card Sako speaks of Christians’ ‘mission’, 'light' in the darkness of the Middle East
In his Easter message, the Chaldean primate mentions the many "trials" past and present, of discovering vocation and responding with "trust, courage and enthusiasm". The resurrection is the "most important" event, without which "faith has no meaning". The apostles set an example, and the Church is the “living heritage of martyrs”.
Baghdad (AsiaNews) – The Chaldean primate, Card Louis Raphael Sako, released a message on the patriarchate’s website to Chaldean priests and believers in Iraq and the world on the occasion of Easter.
In it, he writes that in the East, Christians are continually "tested" amid wars, violence, sectarian attacks and rising emigration and that, precisely for this reason, they must increasingly turn to their "mission".
For the cardinal, "Our existence is not a coincidence, but a divine plan,” which “clearly means discovering" this vocation and "keeping to it with trust, courage and enthusiasm".
For Iraqi Christians, this year’s Holy Week comes amid lights and shadows, a strong desire to serve the community despite the daily difficulties that put at risk their presence and future in the region.
The festivity provides an opportunity to rebuild after the dark years of the US invasion, the wars that followed, emigration and the violence of the Islamic State, not to mentioned the lockdowns by the recent COVID-19 pandemic.
All said, the call to mission that Middle Eastern Christians must carry out is stronger than any persecution.
“We are not afraid,” Card Sako said. “It does not matter how many we are when we are the ‘salt’ of the earth, ‘leaven' in the dough and 'light' in darkness, as Christ called us to be.”
Yet, only with mutual help and support will it be possible to overcome the trials of daily life, which remains difficult, not the least because of certain laws that especially impact Christians, like the ban on alcohol sales and electoral reform.
“Let us remain in solidarity and support one another in the midst of these crises,” said the cardinal, “and let us alleviate each other's pain, like Simon of Cyrene who helped Jesus carry the cross, or Veronica who wiped his face with her handkerchief”, pressing “his image” onto that piece of cloth so that it could be imprinted “in our hearts”.
For the head of the Chaldean Church, the resurrection is "the most important event in the life of Christians” without which "faith has no meaning.”
Citing Christ's words to Thomas, "Do not be unbelieving, but believe", the patriarch urges the faithful to turn this "experience of faith" into a "source of inspiration".
Like the first Christians who "sacrificed everything, even their lives" for love of Jesus, so “our Church in the East is a living heritage of martyrs, to whom we must constantly return.”
The experience of the resurrection, “as it was given to the apostles", thus "comforts us in the midst of difficult times" in which Iraqi and Eastern Christians continuously live. This, warns the cardinal, "gives us the ability to stand firm and face attacks with patience and trust.”
"I take advantage of the glorious feast of the Resurrection to extend in particular to Iraqi Christians, and to Christians around the world, my warmest congratulations and blessings, wishing them and all humanity fairer conditions, peace, stability, solidarity and joy.”