Easter Greetings from Archbishop Lionginas Virbalas, SJ


Dear fellow Lithuanians and all people who long for serenity and peace,

We have reached Easter, the celebration of Christ’s Resurrection. It is associated with light and joy. After his death on the cross, when everything seemed to have collapsed and come to an end, Christ rose and gave new meaning to all our lives. The joyful ringing of the bells proclaims this.

However, joy did not come spontaneously and immediately. The women rushed to the tomb of Jesus while it was still dark, not only around them, but also in their hearts, because their Master and Lord had died. The apostles gathered behind locked doors, and the Gospel does not hide their surprise, their fear, their uncertainty. Jesus is the first to speak to them, to find a way to awaken their faith. He does this not through force but by invitation. He appears as a gardener, a traveller to Emmaus, a stranger on the shore; he is present, but that proximity allows each one to decide freely. And the hearts of those who recognise him are filled with joy.

Our path is not easy either. We celebrate another Easter with a terrible war at the gates of Lithuania. We feel the pain for those who died, of the many wounded, of the destruction of the environment in Ukraine, in the Holy Land and in other war-torn lands. Our own daily hardships, the uncertainty of tomorrow, also test our faith in the Risen One. As Pope Francis has written, ” Often it seems that God does not exist – all around us we see persistent injustice, evil, indifference and cruelty. But it is also true that amid darkness something new always springs to life and sooner or later produces fruit. On razed land life breaks through, stubbornly yet invincibly” (Evangelii gaudium, 276).

The celebration of the Resurrection reveals that extraordinary newness. Christ’s Resurrection is not a thing of the past, but is at work today, so that we can rejoice and have hope, even amid all kinds of difficulties and trials. This hope is not a “cheap” or “quick” consolation in a difficult situation but teaches us to trust in God’s providence, which transcends human time and space. Easter has always been a celebration of liberation and hope. It is a reminder that God keeps his promises and comes to save, even when all seems lost.

We believe that the victory, the salvation we are waiting for, will surely come, but not miraculously and automatically. We also need to be active and take up our own responsibility, trusting in the God, who has already led us to freedom many times. Jesus, while on earth, healed the sick, fed the hungry, condemned injustice and taught forgiveness. He calls us to do the same. If we live this way, the Resurrection will already be a new beginning, fully unfolding in the nearness of our Father in Heaven.

These words of Psalm 118 (24) are often heard at Easter time: “The Lord has given us this day: let us rejoice, let us be glad!” Let us rejoice because Jesus, the Ruler of life, has conquered sin and death and unites all people as brothers and sisters with one heavenly Father. Let all Lithuanians either living in Lithuania or throughout the world also feel that we are one family, supporting one another. May the light of the Risen Christ shine upon us, so that we may become witnesses of hope and life.

Happy Easter to you all.

Archbishop Lionginas Virbalas, SJ
Delegate for Lithuanian Catholic Pastoral Care Abroad