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President's Message

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“The Shepherd’s Voice: An Easter Message” (Psalms 118.1-2, 14-24; Isaiah 65.17-25; 1 Corinthians 15.19-26; John 20.1-18)

On Easter morning, what was it that turned things around? What was it that turned somber darkness into glorious light, silence of despair to song of joy? Some say that it was the empty tomb. Maybe, maybe not.

When Mary Magdalene found that the tomb was empty, her immediate thought was not resurrection but that some people had taken the corpse out of the tomb. She relayed her worry to Peter and the Beloved Disciple. Together they went to the tomb. Peter and the Beloved Disciple went inside and saw the empty tomb. Even though the Beloved Disciple “saw and believed,” they went back to where they were staying.

Mary then saw two angels in white. Still, what she did was just repeat her despair: “They have taken my Lord away, and I don’t know where they have put him.” Even when she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, she did not recognize that it was Jesus. She actually confronted Jesus: “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”

What Mary saw did not open her eyes to truly see. I wonder if this is what the world is going through now. We have been seeing tides of refugees and waves of terrorist attack, hearing speeches of hatred and discrimination, pride and arrogance. In a world where some despair, many angry, others numbed, what we see every day do not open our eyes to see anything but death.

The story took an opposite turn when Jesus called her by name: “Mary.” From that point on, Mary was awakened and began to see. It was the Shepherd’s voice that turned things around. Likewise, I believe that it is the Shepherd who calls his own people and reminds them of God’s hope and promise that will turn things around. Death, the last enemy will be destroyed (1 Cor. 15.26). The stone that was rejected has become the cornerstone (Ps 118.22) on which the people of God are built and are always reminded the vision of God’s promise, not human hatred and violence:

“See, I will create
new heavens and a new earth.
The former things will not be remembered,
nor will they come to mind…
Never again will there be in it
an infant who lives but a few days,
or an old man who does not live out his years;
the one who dies at a hundred
will be thought a mere child;
the one who fails to reach a hundred
will be considered accursed.
They will build houses and dwell in them;
they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
No longer will they build houses and others live in them,
or plant and others eat.
For as the days of a tree,
so will be the days of my people;
my chosen ones will long enjoy
the work of their hands.
They will not labor in vain,
nor will they bear children doomed to misfortune;
for they will be a people blessed by the LORD,
they and their descendants with them.
Before they call I will answer;
while they are still speaking I will hear.
The wolf and the lamb will feed together,
and the lion will eat straw like the ox,
and dust will be the serpent’s food.
They will neither harm nor destroy
on all my holy mountain,”
says the LORD

(ISA 65.17-25)

Perhaps one of the main lessons for today’s churches is to learn to discern the Shepherd’s voice. With this voice, the churches will be able to proclaim the Easter message that the world should no longer be threatened by speeches and acts of violence because our Lord is risen and He has conquered all forces of evil and sin.

Let us give thanks to God

  1. God raised Jesus Christ and subjects all things under His authority.
  2. Jesus Christ, our Shepherd, continues to call us to turn from despair to hope and courage.
  3. The church is called into the vocation of proclaiming life against death, love over hatred.

Let us pray to God

  1. The church discerns the voice of the risen Lord and respond to His call.
  2. The calamities and anguish of the world will not blind the church from seeing the vision of God.
  3. The church will be faithful and courageous in proclaiming the Gospel of life.
 
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