The following is an Easter reflection offered by Rosemarie Pace, co-coordinator of Pax Christi New York State.
Brothers and sisters, may we be won over by the peace of Christ!
Peace is possible; peace is a duty; peace is everyone’s primary responsibility
Urbi et Orbi message, Easter 2022, Pope Francis
We know how Jesus greeted his disciples upon his resurrection. Despite all his unjust and excruciating suffering, despite Peter’s denial, despite the Apostles’ abandonment, Jesus returned with a greeting of peace. No anger, no scolding, no retaliation. Just peace! And Pope Francis prays that we will all, to this day, be won over by the peace of Christ. Furthermore, he asserts that peace is possible, a duty, and our primary responsibility—without exception.
Is this the message we take away from Jesus’s resurrection? If not, why not, and, if not, what is? Several times in these reflections and in my Easter letters, I have repeated the expression that we are a resurrection people. If we welcome Jesus’s greeting and believe Pope Francis’s message, dare we accept that to be resurrection people we must be people of peace?
Admittedly, that’s not an easy task. We live in a country, a Church, and a world that is hardly at peace. Everyday, the news reports on more and more violence from domestic abuse to street crime to systemic evils like racism and sexism to various kinds of trafficking (human, drug, gun, etc.) to civil wars to international conflagrations. It’s hard to be resurrection people—people of peace, people of hope. It helps to have models to show us how and, happily, there are many.
In January I spent a week at the U.S.-Mexico border on an Immersion Trip organized by the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers. (You can read my full report at the PCNYS website on the Events page.) I was part of a group who stayed in El Paso, Texas but also visited Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. With all that bad news mentioned above, this might not seem like the place to find resurrection people, but they were there, and they were numerous.
In Juarez, there were the women, some of them religious sisters, but not all, who were providing Montessori education and neurotherapy to disabled children and emotional support to their mothers. There were the two women—themselves wives, mothers, and grandmothers—who founded a house library to promote literacy and to offer programs and scholarships that provide young people alternatives to the cartels and smugglers. The Sisters of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd run Casa Eudes that serves displaced women who have been victims of violence and their young children. Sr. Betty Campbell, along with Fr. Peter Hinde and layman Tadeo Zywicki, opened Casa Tabor to accompany the local people and to try to understand the effects of the maquilas whose factories have exploited and impoverished them. Fr. Bill Morton, pastor of Corpus Christi parish, provides food, clothing, shelter, work, and legal and medical assistance to migrants both heading to the U.S. and deported by the U.S.
In El Paso, Sacred Heart Parish is one of the major shelters for refugees and asylum seekers. There people can find a variety of services, including a place to charge phones, which are a necessity in the process of trying to reach sponsors, and haircuts, which we may not think of but which, when you do, you may agree are pretty important. Actually many shelters exist in El Paso. Another one we visited was Holy Family which also helps migrants reach sponsors and offers nourishing meals, appropriate clothes for the weather, opportunities to wash and rest, and toys for the children.
Then there are the organizations like Las Americas and the Diocesan Migrant and Refugee Services providing legal assistance. The attorneys working in each place are doing a valiant job navigating a totally dysfunctional U.S. immigration system.
La Mujer Obrera, found in the poorest neighborhood in El Paso, empowers women to take charge of their lives and their community through several enterprises, including Café Mayapan which serves all natural, healthful food from their own community farm; a farmers market; Lum Matik (Mother Earth), a fair-trade import company selling beautiful handiwork from several women’s cooperatives in Mexico; a daycare and learning center that is not only affordable, but #1 in quality in the area; and Museo Mayachen that teaches the local history. Similarly, Centro Santa Catalina is a fair-trade market selling beautiful products from Mexican women artisans.
Finally, there are the migrants, themselves. The fact that they risk everything to escape extreme violence and very real threats of violence in search of a better life for themselves and their families makes them truly resurrection people, seeking peace, filled with hope, rising from utter desolation.
For me, and hopefully for you, all these people are resurrection people. They believe in light in the darkness. They have hope in the face of despair. They are life-giving where death looms deep. When Jesus says, “Peace be with you,” they embrace the message, and when Pope Francis says peace is our duty and responsibility, they strive to make it real. And they are not alone. Across the globe we find others, as well—the war protesters in Russia, those committed to nonviolence in Ukraine, the Refusers in Israel, the peace activists right here at home….
May we be inspired by their example. May we inspire others with our own as resurrection people, people of peace, people who bring the message and meaning of Easter to all whom we meet.
Prayer to the Restorer of Entombed Vitaiity by Joyce Rupp in Out of the Ordinary
Source of inner power
Restorer of tombed vitality
Giver of graced gusto
You who have been raised
From the cold stone of death
Come and resurrect me
From my own entombment
Repair what has weakened
In my spiritual endeavors
Revive my mildewed
Lift up my waning hope
When I wail with the world’s pain
Restore my sense of oneness
With all of your creation
Refresh my daily call
To embrace the sacred
To find you in every gesture
That dances with your heart
Push back the stone
Untomb my generosity
Renew my dedication
Raise up my dilapidated dreams
Restore my ancient union
Resuscitate my burning desire
Re-establish my priorities
So you become the Center
Of all I am and all I do
- Think of those who are resurrection people for you. What is it about them that inspires you? If possible, let them know how much they mean to you and why.
- Consider how you can be a resurrection person to others. In what way might you inspire others? Commit to acting on this notion.
- Pope Francis tells us that peace is possible and that it is a duty. How are you contributing to peace-building? Identify at least one way and make it a habit throughout the Easter season and beyond.
- Check out the rest of the PCNYS website to know what’s been happening (on the News page) and what’s coming up (on the Events page). Plan to participate whenever and wherever you are able.
- Subscribe to Pax Christi USA’s listserv. You might also like to subscribe to Pax Christi International’s newsletters which you can find at www.paxchristi.net.