For Christians, Easter is the most important feast of the ecclesiastical year. Its importance is explained in the words of the Apostle Paul, written in 1 Corinthians 15:17, that “unless Christ rose from the dead, our faith is in vain”.

Among Christians therefore, Easter evokes feelings of tremendous joy at Christ’s victory over death. It also evokes an unshakeable hope in the promise of new and everlasting life.

However, Easter is not just for Christians. Joy and hope are universal feelings. All human beings, regardless of their religious persuasion, are in need of joy and of hope. The messages of Easter are therefore not Christian messages alone. Like the messages of all the other wonderful religious observances that grace our national calendar each year, the messages of Easter are messages for all of us. They call us to a deeper participation in the universal project by which we are all united – the human project of finding joy and hope in our daily lives.

As for joy – Easter, with its enlivening cry, “He is not here, He is risen” reminds us to search for joy even in the darkest of circumstances, much like the women looking for Jesus’ body in the tomb on that first Easter morning, only to be told by the angels there, the glorious news of his resurrection. Easter reminds us to never give up searching for joy, even when all seems lost.

As for hope – Easter reminds us that, in the end, life triumphs over death and that love triumphs over indifference and enmity.

Easter’s hope is not the misty belief that all will somehow be well in the end – it is the certain assurance that if we each, in our own way, cotinue to do what is right, one decision at a time, we will be born into new life as a people and as a nation.

Easter’s hope is the kind of conviction that anchors us, keeps our spirits alive and gives us resolute confidence in the promise of a new day.

This year, let us see the messages of Easter as our individual invitations to renew our minds and transform our lives. Let us commit to being a more joyful and a more hopeful people – to becoming people who sacrifice more readily, forgive more easily and work in greater universal harmony to achieve our goals.

Of course, whether we choose to accept our individual invitations and to participate in this year’s Easter celebrations in this way, is entirely up to us. But what is certain is that if we do, and when we do, our nation will be all the greater for it.

I extend to the Christian and to the national community best wishes for a joyous, a hopeful and a contemplative Easter 2023.