The Christian calendar is a reflection of nature’s cycle of birth and death, joy and despair, triumph and disaster. Constructed around the coming, life, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, it establishes for believers seasons to observe, feast days to commemorate, periods to engage in self-denial and contemplation, and opportunities to weave their faith into the rhythm of daily life. Its cyclical nature brings a sense of certainty, stability and comfort especially during turbulent times. Having just come through the prayer, fasting and introspection characteristic of the Lenten season, Christians, now fortified with renewed faith and conviction, celebrate Easter, the festival at the heart of the Christian calendar. With its narrative of hope and promise of salvation, Easter offers reassurance and encouragement to the believer and non-believer alike. Easter helps us to find hope amid overwhelming despair. Christ’s death plunged his followers into mourning, but the discovery of the empty tomb and risen Lord filled them with great joy and hope for the future. The scripture “though weeping may endure for a night, joy cometh in the morning” took on new resonance and meaning. Christ’s voluntary suffering, with its singular goal of liberating mankind, epitomises love, compassion and sacrifice. Jesus lived as he preached, embodying the commandment “love thy neighbour as thyself”. The tenets of love, faith and perseverance are not unique to the Christian creed but are applicable to us all as we seek to make sense of and tackle the many challenges facing our country. That we will emerge on the other side of the pandemic is certain, especially now that the desperately needed vaccines have begun to arrive and we continue to observe the Covid-19 protocols. How, is a matter entirely for us, as individuals and as a nation; will we learn any salutary lessons that impact and improve the way we live, or will we fall back into the antisocial and unhealthy patterns that have become all too familiar? During the past year, we have been forced to rethink the way we conduct the business of life, resetting plans and priorities as we come to terms with the reality of Covid-19. We have experienced and endured the death of many hopes and dreams, but in the spirit of Easter we can, with hope and resolve, look forward to a brighter day. Let us embrace the theme of victory—Christ’s victory over the grave and our victory over the trials and crises that confront us. May we, both Christians and non-Christians, draw inspiration from the story of Easter with its universal message of “the contagion of hope”. I extend to the national community best wishes for a safe, joyous and contemplative Easter celebration.
5th Public Lecture to mark International Women’s Day— “I am Generation Equality: Realising Women’s Rights”
March 6, 2020