Dear families and friends,
He is Risen! Alleluia!
These are the words that sum up the passion and hope of our Christian family as we celebrate the Easter mystery of the death and resurrection of Jesus. They are the words that inspire us to live with confidence and joy despite adversity. They empower us to live bravely and to love openly.
It is easy to compartmentalise the Easter story to events that took place two millennia ago, but the story cannot be confined to ancient history. Easter is a living reality. It is a reality that happens every day. How can we be sure that the first Easter is still with us? At times it is not easy. Our hope and confidence can be challenged by a world in which so many suffer. A review of the newspapers confronts us with reports of violence, inhumanity, greed, tragedy and death. In such a world it can be hard to believe that Easter is still present.
In a world where so many suffer and despair, it can be difficult to hold onto hope and confidence. Yet, as a community of faith, we hear the voices of Easter ‘angels’ who speak with conviction that amid the pain and suffering, there is life and joy. These angels remind us that our irrepressible hope, born of our faith in Jesus’ message of love, forgiveness, compassion, peace, and justice, is a power that can conquer all pain.
Source: CBC News July 1 2022 accessed 20 March 2023 (https://www.cbc.ca/news/world/50-napalm-girl-kim-phuc-ukraine-1.6484977)
One such modern-day angel of the Easter message is Kim Phúc. Many of us have seen the horrific picture of her running naked along a war-torn road, screaming in anguish as napalm seared her body during the Vietnam War. It was taken in 1972 after U.S. bombers had destroyed her village. It is a picture that conveys much of the inhumanity and destruction of war. We might assume that this little girl had died in the war, but a recent article I read explained that Kim survived. Now at 59 years of age, after years of physical and emotional recovery, she lives in Canada with her family and works to provide medical and psychological support to children affected by war through the Kim Foundation International.
In a dramatic gesture of forgiveness and reconciliation, Kim travelled to Washington in 1996 to lay a wreath at the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial. In her address to the crowd of several thousand people she spoke words of forgiveness, peace and her faith in God. Kim said to the gathering
“Even if I could talk face to face with the pilot who dropped the bombs, I would tell him: “We cannot change the past, but we can do good things for the present and the future to promote peace.”
In 2008 during an interview with National Public Radio (NPR) she said
‘Forgiveness made me free from hatred. I still have many scars on my body and severe pain most days, but my heart is cleansed. Napalm is very powerful, but faith, forgiveness, and love are much more powerful. We would not have war at all if everyone could learn how to live with true love, hope, and forgiveness. If that little girl in the picture can do it, ask yourself: Can you?’
In July 2022, Kim Phúc welcomed, in person, 236 Ukranian refugees with children aboard a special flight from Warsaw to Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. The airplane used for the special flight bore an image of her iconic 1972 photo.
How do we know that Easter still happens in our world? We listen to the voices of angels like Kim: angels who show us that even in the worst of tragedy there can be hope and new life.
May this Easter season be a time for each of us to speak words of forgiveness, healing, hope, reconciliation and new life. May we be willing to be ‘angels’ of Easter in our homes and communities. May the risen Christ be made present through our words and actions.
I wish you all a happy and holy Easter season.
Ms Giovanna Fiume