Easter Message 2016



Throughout the centuries of the Church’s existence, there are countless examples of Christian martyrs who were prepared to give up their lives for the faith. From the Apostles who witnessed Jesus’ Resurrection, the early Christians who to a person were prepared to give up their lives, to those followers of Jesus today in this twenty first century, the Resurrection of Jesus was and is the central event of faith; a conviction founded in hope, based on the wonderful mercy of God who sent Jesus to bring us out of darkness into life through his Death and Resurrection. St Paul wrote with great joy that, if Christ is not raised, then our faith is in vain.

You would have to be crazy to die for an unfounded hope………………………..

In our Australian environment we perhaps are free from the fear of physical martyrdom but nonetheless we are called upon to potent witness to Christ. Therefore we might rephrase the above…..You would have to be crazy to live faith for an unfounded hope!

It goes without saying that for so many of us it can be very difficult to live our Christian faith in the midst of so many differing and challenging human experiences. Certainly life brings a mixed bag of these experiences; from sickness, to disillusionment, family crises, personal failure, fractured relationships, broken promises, lost hopes to just the intense pace of family life, and due to being time poor, we often do not have or make the opportunities for ‘touching’ our God within us or through the sacraments of the Church, where his merciful and consoling presence is found. Within all these experiences we certainly have moments of great love and personal satisfaction, success and wonderful opportunities for life.

On a global front, there is the constant fear, disillusionment and concern for our world today with the realities of spreading terrorism, the critical refugee issue facing nations and other issues together perhaps our ‘homeland’ concern as to where our Australian society is tracking. Through all these experiences, our faith can be broken; temporarily or permanently. We don’t see the relevance of faith in our lives, and so we can liken ourselves to the disciples at the time of Jesus’ death together with women at the tomb where there is little hope.

As with all these human experiences, so with the Church! It so often struggles to live what it preaches, sin abounds, and within the Australian context, we see so dramatically its failures over sexual abuse, injustice and misguided leadership. But within the Church is found the redeeming presence of Jesus working to constantly transforming it through the power of His mercy and the action of the Holy Spirit. As Church we are constantly being called back to the origins of our faith, not found in the institution of the Church but in the very presence of Jesus. He is the centre of faith and Church life. He needs to be front and centre, the face of the Church. Only by gazing upon him will the transforming power of his love heal us.

All of us are call back to basics this Easter! We are called back to Christ Jesus for God’s mercy is clearly shown in the Death and Resurrection of Jesus. We are called from darkness to light, from death to life, from imprisonment to freedom, to a new start!

Pope Francis has proclaimed this year ‘The Jubilee Year of Mercy’. Therefore Easter has significance themes this year. In Holy Week just past, we have been drawn to reflect on how the mercy of the Father has been given to us in the crucified Jesus for no one except the Son of God could lift the burden of sin from our shoulders. There can be no greater sign given to us of the Father’s love.

As a Church we have this Good News to share; it is the Good News of God’s constant loving and compassionate presence in our lives. We are called to be disciples, witnesses of Jesus in spite of our personal and collective failures as Church, knowing the power of his mercy can transform us so that through his love we may be instruments of divine love in our world………We are constantly experiencing new beginnings in Christ …He is patient, He is loving, He is constantly forgiving and extending the Mercy of the Father to us; at all times. Do we have the courage to invite him into our lives?

Pope Francis reminds us in this Year of Mercy that we all have a responsibility as Christians to share the Mercy of the Father with people who live around us. These works of mercy include being thoughtful, kind, patient, forgiving, respectful and considerate with those around us including our families and those we serve within Army, Navy and Air Force.

I join with our Bishop and chaplains in praying for all our ADF members, those deployed and at home, for our families and supporters of this Military Diocese that this Easter time will bring us closer to Christ and one another.

Wishing you all a very happy Easter.


Monsignor Peter O’Keefe AM VG


Catholic Diocese of the Australian Defence Force