Choose Life over Death and Peace Will Prevail in Sudan and South Sudan!
Message for Holy Week and Easter 2017 by SCBC President
Holy Monday, April 10, 2017
“Choose Life over death and Peace will prevail!” This is God’s plea to his people, a plea which echoed in our churches during the first week of Lent as a few lines of the book of Deuteronomy were proclaimed. (30.19.) Isn’t it surprising to hear God plead with his people, beg them, implore them to make this choice? Perhaps God has to plead with us because the choice is neither evident nor easy. However, it is always crucial.
“Choose Life over death and Peace will prevail!” The adjective “crucial” comes from the Latin crux, meaning “cross”. A choice is said to be crucial when we are at the crossroads, facing the Cross of Jesus. The Crucified One invites as people of Sudan and South Sudan to bear the sufferings of one another, to keep patient vigil together in the darkness, to listen even in death for life’s heartbeat. When Christians enter the tomb with Jesus, it is not to choose death, but to be witnesses of love and hope, even as the signs of life flicker and become invisible. Our mission is not to roll the rock over the grave but, together with the One who goes before us, to invite the world to be open to light and life.
“Choose Life over death and Peace will prevail!” At this precise moment, the Church celebrates the gift of life and peace that came with the Resurrection of Christ from the dead. To the women who came to the tomb, very early on Easter Sunday morning, the first day of the week, two angels in dazzling apparel said: “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen” (Lk 24:5). Those words proclaim the triumph of life over death, of hope over despair, of joy over sorrow and grief.
“Choose Life over death and Peace will prevail!” These are the crucial choices as South Sudanese we are called to make. To offer love and encouragement to the dying, so they are part of the fabric of community and care which extends beyond death. To bear the pains of existence with those who struggle with dependencies and addictions, offering comfort and assurance in times of loneliness and anguish. To confess our own failings and limitations as we journey with criminals, trusting that every person can one day be healed and so bring healing to another. To accept our own fears and vulnerabilities in the face of violence, as we search together for a way out of injustice and exploitation. To build bridges and respect for all as we insist on the dignity of human life and community.
“Choose Life over death and Peace will prevail!” The Risen Jesus breathed upon the disciples and offered them peace. With him, we people of South Sudan and Sudan, too, are to breathe life into our relationships, our communities, our work and our world. The Spirit of peace and joy we offer does not prefer death. Invited, compelled, by the Spirit we seek and protect life. The Risen Christ is with us—in the womb; on the death-bed; in the fields and houses of our Galilee and beyond. The love that God calls us to offer is stronger than death; the life we share extends more deeply and far further than the grave.
“Choose Life over death and Peace will prevail!” This is the “crucial” choice each of us must make. Out of this choice rises every Hallelujah! For in Christ, our hope lives. He is risen. Risen indeed. His greeting to those who saw him was: “Peace be with you. Peace was his Easter gift. The Risen Lord brings peace, life and joy to our broken Sudan and South Sudan.
“Choose Life over death and Peace will prevail!” May he give you all a generous share in his life and peace, so that whatever difficulties and sorrows you have, you may find a solution and healing in his Resurrection. May he give you his peace! Easter symbolizes the renewal of life. I wish you and your family the renewal of life, love, and happiness!
+ Sarani Eduardo Hiiboro KUSSALA
Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Tombura-Yambio
President of Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference