Homily of Father Armand Puig (Chaplain of the University of Santa Pacià, Barcelona)
Apocalypse 12, 10-12
The voice of the saints on earth reaches the heart of God. This is how our Community sings in evening prayer. The memory of this night brings us closer to the cry that comes out of the mouth of the small and meek who have dragged around by suffering and death. The darkness of Good Friday has unexpectedly come back. In that park of Lahore, Pakistan, filled with Christians who were celebrating the feast of Easter. We are not talking about the powerful people of this world. They were not the strong ones, the most able, or the ones who dominated the people. In that park, so similar to the garden where Jesus appeared to Maria and the other women, there were many women with their children who were celebrating the peace of the risen Christ. Christians, but also Muslims, came together in a place of life and smiles: a park for children in a city where people of different religions lived together. All of a sudden, the joy of Easter was interrupted by a carrier of death that, destroying itself, wanted to destroy many other people. The violence is so blind that it does not need a reason to explode. In order to let violence take over one’s self, one simply has to remove the humanity within us, after which it becomes far easier and natural to complete all of these wild actions. Violence, daughter of hate, is present in many hells on this world where the weakest are wounded, beaten, and killed, and where the poor are the real image on Jesus Christ crucified. In that park of Lahore, the death and resurrection of Jesus met in the bodies of many innocent Christians who were accompanying the Lord in his mystery of Easter.
Evil is powerful. The Book of the Apocalypse speaks of the “accuser” and gives it the name it receives in the scripture, “the devil.” It is said “it came down onto you, full of a great wrath.” The most malignant of violence, the one that springs from one heart to another, but does not see or hear, fell upon the Christians and Muslims of Lahore with a great wrath. Muslim and Christian families had brought their children to that park, sharing that space of peace in the middle of the city. The force of evil was released beyond all measures: it hit all of those people. In contrast with the great violence, the great force of good had manifested in that park as Christians and Muslims, both of whom had enjoyed the love of the Lord Jesus, united in prayer towards one God. Hatred and love, one next to the other; violent arrogance and meekness, one next to another. Goodness disturbs, what is good bothers, mercy is a work too big for those who have lost their soul and become carriers of death. The meekness of Christians of Pakistan, a small minority (approximately 1.1% of the population) is obligated to live in a very complex and difficult living situation; it is truly a miracle of this Easter. Many would expect a hateful response after such a heavy attack. A hard word for world without Christians and other minorities would be expected. But meekness, supported by every hope, is the foundation of the faith of Christians of Pakistan, in their fight against the evil of the death carriers and against the indifference of those who remain silence. But the meek are those who have the strength of God and the power of his Christ. Meekness is the strength of the weak, such as Shabbaz Bhatti, Christian, Minister of the Minorities in Pakistan who was murdered a year years ago by those who did not want to accept the difference.
In the book of the Apocalypse a dream is affirmed: the victory of good over evil and death. After the terrible attack in Lahore, many would think that there is not hope, that the death of these Christians is an episode in a long history of the subservience of the poor to the powers of darkness and death. But after this unforgettable Easter of Misery and of Friendship, we are brought together towards hope rather than towards the despair of a bleak future, we have the power to speak of the victory of love instead of giving power and reason to violence. It is true that the carriers of death seem to, each time, bring more room for fury and cruelty. But the carriers of life, which the Christians who died at Lahore are part of, are testimonies to Easter and will win death. We can say, with the book of the Apocalypse, that they have “conquered evil thanks to the blood of the lamb and the word of their testimony.” We are talking about prophetic words that concern us in these days. The dark evils of terror often use, in an absolutely improper way, the name of religion and God. And so it becomes blasphemy: blasphemy is preferred by those who kill in the name of God, not those who invoke it with a mean and peaceful heart. Our brothers who died at Lahore had celebrated Easter and had united with Jesus, the lamb who had taken upon itself the burden of the sin, wild violence, and untamed hate of this world. And so evil can be conquered, because Jesus died as a poor and meek man, who gave his life so that the world may be filled with life.
The Christians who died in Pakistan, relive the words in the book of the Apocalypse “They did not love their lives so to escape death.” Their meekness brought them to follow the footsteps of Jesus. They have been raised onto the cross and have gone with him to the hells of this world: worlds of waste, of violence, and of death. Meek men and women are a challenge for the carriers of death. In fact, the carrier of death will end in that same death. Death has one limit: it cannot go past one’s self, once it acts it becomes blocked. Instead, meekness has a strength that surpasses death. Jesus is the meek and poor who dies and is resurrected, winning over death thanks to the enormous love of a God who does not allow his Son to remain in the midst of corruption of those who identify with it. For this reason today our prayer has a tint of Easter; “Today salvation, the force, and the Kingdom of our God have been completed.” Amen