File photo of Cardinal Charles Maung Bo and Pope Francis during 2017 Apostolic Journey to Myanmar File photo of Cardinal Charles Maung Bo and Pope Francis during 2017 Apostolic Journey to Myanmar 

Cardinal Bo of Myanmar: Rejoice and find comfort in Easter hope

Despite the ongoing traumatic events in Myanmar, Cardinal Charles Maung Bo of Yangon, in his Easter message, invites the faithful to place their hope in Christ, which fills our hearts with joy and can transform even the bleakest of situations.

By Deborah Castellano Lubov

Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, Archbishop of Yangon, Myanmar, and President of the Federation of Asian Bishops (FABC), has, despite the traumatic events in his country, offered an Easter message of hope.

Pope Francis, in his Easter Urbi et Orbi message 'to the city and the world', remembered those suffering in Myanmar, and prayed that in the nation, peace may prevail and the hearts of leaders might be enlightened so that the "deeply-afflicted Rohingya may encounter justice."

Let hope break forth from every heart

In the Easter message, Cardinal Bo rejoiced in Christ's Resurrection, and called for celebrating the great event of Jesus' Way of the Cross ending in the victory of good over evil. "We have come to celebrate that great event. May all that pain of suffering of every human being be healed on this day." 

"Let every heart break forth in hope of peace and reconciliation," he said, noting that Jesus, Who triumphed over the powers of death, has risen in our hearts, and can remove all darkness, including for the suffering people of Myanmar.

God intervenes

The Burmese Cardinal insisted that God intervenes in history. "Easter is the story of God’s limitless compassion for the suffering humanity. You and I and all the suffering people of the world," he repeated, "can take heart, as God’s message is liberation from all kinds of suffering."

For many, Cardinal Bo recognized, history shows "a despairing tomb," where "many chose to bury themselves in hatred, in vengeance and in despair," due to poverty, disease, war, inequality, and injustices.

He asked how we can remove the "tombstones" and bring about a new world of peace and prosperity.

No stone too heavy for God

The message of Easter, Cardinal Bo said, "is that no stone is too heavy, no burden too great, for the power of God's love to overcome."

"Just as Jesus rose from the dead," he observed, "so too can we rise above our circumstances, our struggles, our anxieties,  the heart-wrenching scenes of human suffering and our fears, and experience the new life and hope that comes from trusting in God's love and mercy. "

"This Easter season," the leader of Asia's bishops invited, "let us allow the stones that weigh us down to be lifted, so that we may experience the fullness of God's love and the joy of new life in Christ.

No matter what challenges we face, Cardinal Bo stressed, "we are never alone, for the Risen Lord is with us always, guiding us, comforting us, and leading us to new life and new hope."

How to be a 'Resurrection' people

The recent past, the Asian Cardinal acknowledged, has been very challenging. "Death courted us. But like Jesus we are not people of death; we are people of life, we are people of resurrection."

Cardinal Bo went on to ask how we can be people of resurrection.

First, he said, we must be advocates for justice and equality. "We must stand up for those who are oppressed and marginalized, and work to eliminate the systemic forces that keep people in poverty and suffering, and bury the innocents before their time of death."

Second, he insisted, we must be peacemakers. "We must work to resolve conflicts and bring about reconciliation, both in our personal relationships and in the wider world. Vengeance is a tomb from which few come back alive.  Jesus came back because he could overcome vengeance."

And finally, he said, we must be people of prayer and faith.

God can transform the world

Cardinal Bo concluded by emphasizing that this is the time of prayer, unceasing prayers, especially against the agents of death, and all powers that believe in the power of darkness and death.

"We must believe," he appealed, "in the power of God to transform the world and to bring about new life, even in the midst of the darkest of situations. As Isaiah assured us: "But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint" (Isaiah 40:31).

The Cardinal invited the faithful to be inspired by the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, and "to remove the 'tombstones' that threaten to bury our hopes and dreams for a better world, and to change the world, working for justice, peace, and the healing of the earth."

"Let us have faith that, with God's help," Cardinal Bo said, "a new world of peace and prosperity is indeed possible."

“May God bless us all on this Easter Sunday. Let the message of Jesus continue to inspire us: 'I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.'”

More suffering in Myanmar

According to Reuters, at least 50 people were killed in central Myanmar on Tuesday in an air strike by the military on an event attended by opponents to its rule, according to media and members of a local resistance movement.

Myanmar has been in turmoil since a 2021 coup, with attacks by ethnic minority armies and resistance fighters challenging the rule of the military, which has responded with air strikes and heavy weapons, including in civilian areas.

Thank you for reading our article. You can keep up-to-date by subscribing to our daily newsletter. Just click here

11 April 2023, 15:30