The Easter message of the triumph of life over death and hope over despair is reinforced for all of us in Ireland this year. We may not have put behind us all of the legacy of a troubled past, but so much has happened that promises new beginnings and a future liberated from the chains of the past, that we are surely right to celebrate with additional joy and conviction.
It is well to recall that the gospel accounts of the Easter events indicate a slow but steady coming to terms with a completely new order of things. Not everyone immediately recognised the risen Lord or felt able to believe merely on the word of others. But gradually realisation grew and with it excitement, hope and conviction as men and women came to experience for themselves the presence of the living Lord and the quality of the new life offered to them through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
As we move forward through the weeks of the Easter season towards the new beginnings promised in the month of May (the month that contains both the celebration of the Ascension and the Day of Pentecost) we shall be praying with increasing fervour for the success of partnership in government and across the whole of our community life. We should also be praying that all political and community leaders will embrace the chance to put the darkness of the past behind them in order to lead us into the dawning light of a shared future.
Let us all pray that Easter joy and Easter hope in Christ will overflow into every aspect of our lives through the power of the Holy Spirit for the wellbeing of all the people of this island to the glory of God the Father.