Bishop Peter Ingham's Easter Message on following Pope Francis' call to mercy and forgiveness
I am particularly grateful each year when the media give me the opportunity to convey an Easter message to you all. Some of my parishioners would know that a special text of Scripture that has inspired my ministry is from Acts Chapter 14 where it says that the Apostles Paul and Barnabas "put fresh heart into the disciples encouraging them to preserve in the faith." (Acts 14:22)
We all need fresh heart from time-to-time, me included. I am reminded of a quote, "Aspire, to inspire, before you expire!" The events over the past couple of weeks with the election of our new Pope Francis have given so many people fresh heart and encouragement. His humility has inspired me and I feel like I have a new spring in my step.
In his unassuming way, the Pope has already shared many profound ideas such as our need to be protectors of life, protectors of the environment and protectors of those in most need in our society – such as our children. The Pope is calling the Church to continue to face its failings of the past and to ensure it always protects the most vulnerable in our society. He has spoken about how protecting each other demands goodness and calls for a certain tenderness which is not the virtue of the weak but rather a sign of strength.
Pope Francis says that, "If we look upon others with tenderness and love, it opens up a horizon of hope; it lets a shaft of light break through the heavy clouds." Christian people deal in hope because Jesus conquered our two great enemies, sin and death, by dying on the Cross for us and by rising again. Easter is about God's mercy and forgiveness; bringing new life and hope.
Pope Francis has said that the Lord's most powerful message is his mercy and forgiveness, "But it is not easy to entrust oneself to God's mercy, because it is an abyss beyond our comprehension." I hear people tell me, "I am too far gone Bishop, I am beyond forgiveness, I am a great sinner." But, the Pope says, "All the better! Go to Jesus: he likes you to tell him these things! [Jesus] has a very special capacity for forgiving… he embraces you and he simply says to you: 'Neither do I condemn you; go, and sin no more.' (John 8:11)… The Lord never tires of forgiving: never! It is we who tire of asking for God's forgiveness." So my Easter message to you is: never tire of asking for forgiveness! God is our loving Father who always pardons, whose heart is merciful to us all so we in turn may learn to be merciful to each other.