Easter and the Lampedusa Cross

“Jesus Christ,” said Pascal, “will be in his death throes till the end of the world.” As we have drawn closer to Holy Week and therefore Good Friday, I have been thinking a lot about the LAMPEDUSA CROSS which Pope Francis gave to the 19 Anglican and 19 Catholic Bishops last October when we were at the IARCCUM meeting. These crosses have been made from the wreckage of lifeboats washed up on the island of Lampedusa in the Mediterranean. It is the place many refugees have tried to reach, often in flimsy and overcrowded boats, with many drowning on the way.

The cross is a visible reminder of the terrible suffering of those people, in life and in death. In those thousands of people who have drowned, Jesus Christ has once again been “in his death throes.” Wherever people suffer, are persecuted, treated like slaves, or even ridiculed or made fun of, wherever people are treated without the dignity every human being deserves, Jesus is “in his death throes.”

As we prepare to participate in these sacred days of the Easter Triduum we are invited to journey with Jesus into Jerusalem, to the room of the Last Supper, to Gethsemane and Calvary. This means that we are invited to pray and reflect, to identify with Jesus in his suffering and agony, AND to be aware of the millions throughout the world who suffer and die. Those millions may not be suffering and dying in dramatic ways; they may be in our streets and even in our homes, desperate people needing a sign of hope and a touch or a look of love and kindness. When human beings suffer in any way at all “Jesus Christ will be in his death throes till the end of the world.”

Even the horror of the Lampedusa Cross is not the final word. We don’t just go to the Good Friday Passion ceremony, we mourn and wait on Holy Saturday, and then our faith in the Resurrection of Jesus reminds us that there is a future for every human being. God exists; that is the real meaning of Easter. “Anyone who even begins to grasp what this means also knows what it means to be redeemed.”  (Pope Benedict XVI)

May the days of Holy Week and Easter be days of deep blessings and abundant peace.

+ John