By Josianne Gauthier
Then they said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?” So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem where they found gathered together the eleven and those with them who were saying, “The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!” Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them in the breaking of bread. – Luke 24:32-35
Ever since my earliest memories in childhood, the time leading up to and following Easter filled me with a kind of light and plenitude that my limited words and life experience could not yet explain. How does a child understand the mystery of our Saviour’s sacrifice and resurrection? As a mother, I still struggle to communicate how this most holy of times of the year can be the anchor from which we can safely travel and navigate, knowing that we will find our way home again. I too try to share what I am feeling with them, and invite them to explore how they feel God’s presence in these moments, both dark and light. It is not just that coming from a cold country (Canada), Easter represents life after darkness and awakening of flowers and birds after the sleepy months that precede it. Easter is mystery, beauty, openness, and vulnerability. It’s a time to listen to stillness, to our hearts and ask the difficult questions which we often try to avoid. Jesus spoke of justice and was put to death. So many people still face violence and death when standing up for justice. What is our part in this? How can we speak out and defend the oppressed? It is even more challenging when we consider that our lifestyles are opulent compared to others, that our comforts come at a very high price to the lives of others and to the planet. How do we reconcile these things and what must we do about it?
I draw great parallels between the time of Easter and the moment we are living on this Earth and in our Church. It is an exciting time for us all. I recently had the opportunity to participate in the extraordinary Synod on the Amazon. Before embarking on this adventure, I understood but could not measure the importance and significance of this process and of this gathering. To say that this experience was transformative would be inadequate. Everything about the time we spent together for three weeks, but also the preparation we undertook in the months before, the testimonials we heard, and the communion we felt with the people and land of the Amazon, was of conversion and reconciliation. Conversion, because we had to listen and see the world we live in and recognize the pain, violence, and injustice being suffered by people and nature. Then, we needed to understand how we play a role in this web of unjust structures, and how some of us benefit from this more directly and indirectly. I came through the Synodal process of listening and awoke with the even more profound realisation that my blessed life of happiness, love, and material comfort has come at a high cost to others and to our earth. But the process does not, and cannot end there.
As Pope Francis tells us in the Apostolic Exhortation “Querida Amazonia”, we must feel legitimate outrage and then we must take action based on love. Conversion is also waking up after a long sleep, which may have been more comfortable in its innocence and ignorance, but truly seeing now what cannot be unseen, taking responsibility that is ours, and acting for change out of sincere love. We have the opportunity to awaken and act out of love for our family, our land and culture, and our neighbours, while loving and being loved by our planet, and our God. ▪
About the Author
Josianne Gauthier is secretary general of the Catholic development agency CIDSE, an international network of Catholic social justice organisations working for transformational change to end poverty and inequalities. As an auditor at the Synod, she listened in, participated in conversations and offered testimony.