Archbishop Peter Loy Chong: Be Servants of Peace

Jesus’ disciples’ Easter experience took place in the context of Jewish peoples’ historical suffering, oppression and hope for liberation.
19 Apr 2019 10:00
Archbishop Peter Loy Chong: Be Servants of Peace
The Archibishop Peter Loy Chong washes the feet of Elizabeth Krishna during the Easter Mass at the Sacred Heart Cathedral.

Peace be with you! Dear friends, Peace is Jesus’ first greeting to the disciples on the first Easter Sunday.

Easter is the Christian festival that brings together Jesus’ life, suffering, death, resurrection and Pentecost (coming down of the Holy Spirit). Easter began with the disciples’ experience of Jesus, who is peace.

Jesus’ disciples’ Easter experience took place in the context of Jewish peoples’ historical suffering, oppression and hope for liberation.

Ever since Israel was exiled in Babylon (587 BC), Jews were attacked, conquered, and oppressed. Theologian Johanne Metz described Israel as a ‘landscape of cries.’

Through the prophets, Israel looked forward to their liberation when God would send a messiah. Israelites were a people desperately looking for peace.

On the first Easter Sunday the Risen Jesus greeted his disciples with the Hebrew greeting ‘Shalom’, which means peace. Shalom means ‘the fullness of life’.

Jesus’ life, teachings, miracles, suffering, death and resurrection gave his disciples new meaning, liberation and hope.

They experienced Jesus as the Christ, the anointed one, the messiah, the liberator, and Son of God. In Jesus they found life that was worth living and dying for.

Easter is not only about the dead body of Jesus coming back to life.

It was more about how the disciples experienced peace through the spirit, teachings and principles of Jesus.

The disciples’ encounter with the Risen Jesus charged them with a mission to bring peace to the world. Jesus told them:

“Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ And if a son of peace is there, your peace shall rest upon him; but if not, it shall return to you” (Lk 10:5-6). Peace is central to the message of Easter.

There is no peace when there is war and violence, when people can not exercise their freedom, and when human rights are violated.

Since the 1987 coups Fijians have experienced violence, torture, fear, and violation of human rights. In the recent years we notice the increase in domestic and sexual violence.

Our Mother Earth and rural communities continue to cry and suffer as companies are allowed to exploit and destroy our pristine environment for short term gains. \Our faith based educative community continue to dialogue with government to protect the special ethos of our schools.

Pope Francis’ message on 2019 World Day of peace entitled “Politics must serve peace” calls for politicians to be at the service of peace.

He states that “Political responsibility belongs to every citizen, and in particular to those who have been given the mandate to protect and govern”.

Politics is an essential means of building human community and institutions, but when political life is not seen as a form of service to society as a whole, it can become a means of oppression, marginalization and even destruction.

While Easter is a Christian tradition it calls everyone to be agents of peace.

Pope Francis’ World Day of Peace message reminds politicians and leaders that they play an important role to building a peaceful society.

“Political office and political responsibility thus constantly challenge those called to the service of their country to make every effort to protect those who live there and to create the conditions for a worthy and just future.

If exercised with basic respect for the life, freedom and dignity of persons, political life can indeed become an outstanding form of charity.”

A key part of building peace is building just political, social, and economic institutions-ones embedding norms of nonviolence, equity,dignity and participation—at the international, national, and local levels.

To inspire politicians on their service for peace, Pope Francis recalls the “Beatitudes of the Politician”, proposed by Vietnamese Cardinal François-Xavier Nguyen Vãn Thuãn, a faithful witness to the Gospel who died in 2002:

  • Blessed be the politician with a lofty sense and deep understanding of his role. v Blessed be the politician who personally exemplifies credibility.
  • Blessed be the politician who works for the common good and not his or her own interest.
  • Blessed be the politician who remains consistent.
  • Blessed be the politician who works for unity.
  • Blessed be the politician who works to accomplish radical change.
  • Blessed be the politician who is capable of listening.
  • Blessed be the politician who is without fear.

As the Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Suva I pray that the peace of the Risen Christ be in you families and our country.

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