Circular Letter of the Prior General
He has risen, rejoice!
All the Brothers and Co-workers, members of the Hospitaller Family of St John of God
With the approach of Easter, I wish to offer my Easter best wishes to all the members of the St John of God family, their loved ones and our guests in the Order’s Centres and Services, praying that Our Risen Lord will fill you all with joy and hope. A very Happy Easter to you all!
The joy of Easter that brings points our lives in a new direction and changes them, by liberating them from the pessimism and the shadows that frequently affect us. This is a joy which is founded on the Resurrection of Christ. In Him, we can be hopeful, because God the Father has raised Him up, overcoming and conquering sin, suffering and death. Neither of these things which cast a shadow over our lives and cause us suffering will ever have the last word, and neither of them wields power over the life which the Risen Christ has won for us all, and for all time.
Our faith, and the Church’s liturgy during Eastertide, invite us to undergo an intense experience of the joy of the Resurrection through an encounter with the Risen Christ. He is not here, He has risen! These were the words spoken by the angel to the women who went to the sepulchre grieving at the loss of a loved one, and with the explosion of joy that this message would bring with it at their later meeting with Him. It is true, He is alive! This was also the experience of the apostles and the disciples on the road to Emmaus, and of so many other people. And we have also been given the joy of this experience, if we have the courage to open up our hearts and the eyes of faith to see Him and feel Him among us.
Reality is sometimes certainly not easy, and indeed it can be extremely difficult, and sometimes be pushed to extremes. It is not necessary to draw up a list of painful situations in life that generate exclusion, suffering and death in our world. Only a few days after joyfully celebrating the Feast of our Founder, Saint John of God, we witnessed the death of a young father who, for reasons that God alone knows, decided to take his life, leaving behind his newborn baby, and his wife. I know that this is only one example of so many cases that occur in one way or another every single day. But the grief was terrible! It left me shaken. Why, Lord? How can I proclaim the joy of life and the love of God when all these things keep happening, and are so real that no-one finds them unusual, and we are not affected by them because our lives are unable to endure such pain and such violence?
And this was also the same experience that our Lord Jesus had. It was His faithfulness to His mission and to His Father, His boldness in refusing to back down, or to allowing himself to be bought for any reason to desist from pursuing His project, that led him to the Cross, to the most cruel of deaths. His example has been followed, and is still being followed today by so many men and women, some following Jesus’s same cause and others following other causes, but all with the same result. And yet, faced by so much pain and suffering, God raised up His Son. For this reason, and even though life sometimes pushes us right to the cliff edge, and even beyond, as in the case of Our Lord, life for all men and women will triumph over death, and will have the last word. That was the decision taken by God our Father, which was embodied in His first-born Son, in Christ Jesus, whose Easter, whose Resurrection, we are about to celebrate and in which we all called to play a part.
Tell the disciples to go to Galilee and there they will meet me. On previous occasions I have reflected on this instruction that Jesus gave to the women. It is crucially important. The joy of Easter is the joy of meeting the Risen Christ already, in the here and now, in our own lives. It was in Galilee that Jesus began His public life, His mission. It is in our lives, in our families, in our hospitals or workplaces, in our parishes and our communities that we find our own particular Galilee. It is from there that each one of us is called to go out and meet the Risen Jesus and, in His company, to continue along the path of life following the Gospel, discovering and noting the signs of life and Resurrection; helping to move beyond the signs and experiences of death and darkness that we encounter every day, bearing witness to our faith and our personal experience of the Living Christ.
Hospitality itself expresses God’s life and merciful love, and the resurrection of Christ. Through Hospitality, we are called every day to proclaim and give visible form to the life which the Risen Christ brings us, to make it possible to experience Easter. Very often by treating people, and on other occasions providing company and offering consolation and comfort, or praying when feeling powerless and begging our Lord to take matters in hand and to fill us with life through His love, or serving and bearing witness to the prophecy of Hospitality, as a sign of the life which vanquishes death. If only we could all have this personal experience of the life which Gospel-inspired Hospitality brings, in the spirit of Saint John of God.
We have practically completed all the Provincial Chapters, and at this moment only the Polish Province remains, and will be held shortly. All the Chapters have been an experience of the new life which the Holy Spirit has given us. I would say that they have also been an experience of resurrection, of outreach to the life and the future of the Order in each of our Provinces. May we remain faithful to our Lord so that the Hospitality of Saint John of God will continue to live on. Next year, we shall be celebrating the General Chapter as a new opportunity for us to renew our beloved Order and the whole Saint John of God Family, and to give it a new lease of life, opening us up to the future that the Holy Spirit is asking of us. It will provide the possibility for us to live and send out a sign of the life which the Risen Christ is bringing us. I urge you all to pray and, from this moment onwards, to prepare carefully for this most important event in the life of our Institution.
Speaking on behalf of the General Government and the whole Hospitaller Family of St John of God at the General Curia, I wish you all A VERY HAPPY EASTER!
Brother Jesús Etayo