Lent-Easter Reflection


We find ourselves living, once again, approaching the mystery of Easter, of resurrection, amidst so many signs, not of new and abundant life, as Jesus promises, but rather of continued suffering and death.  One only need to think of the news we encounter every day to be reminded of all of the situations in the world that could easily lead us to a sense of hopelessness and despair: the wars in Ukraine and the Palestinian Territory, the violence in Haiti, and the challenging situations of so many other places, including the suffering of Sudan and South Sudan.

What can we as religious women and men do?  It seems that our efforts so rarely lead to change on a grand scale.  Perhaps we have to learn to take comfort from our small successes, the seeds of hope and new life that we plant every day.  In Solidarity with South Sudan, our missionaries seek to plant those seeds every day—whether it is preparing teachers for the primary schools, or preparing nurses and midwives to bring health care to a neglected and underserved population, or offering opportunities for faith formation and spiritual growth, or even something as seemingly simple as tending to the soil of Mother Earth with love and care.  Small gestures, but gestures sown with hope, that something greater might be born of those gestures.

Here is a poem that speaks, I think, to our contemporary reality and offers us some wisdom and solace.  The great Brazilian Protestant theologian, Rubem Alves, on which I did some work in my own studies, offers us this reflection on the nature of hope:


What is hope?

What is hope?

It is a presentiment that imagination is more real

and reality less real than it looks.

It is a hunch that the overwhelming brutality of facts

that oppress and repress is not the last word.

It is a suspicion that reality is more complex

than realism wants us to believe

and that the frontiers of the possible are not determined

by the limits of the actual

and that in a miraculous and unexpected way

life is preparing the creative events

which will open the way to freedom and resurrection….


The two, suffering and hope,

live from each other.

Suffering without hope produces resentment and despair,

hope without suffering creates illusions, naiveté, and drunkenness….


Let us plant dates

even though those who plant them will never eat them.

We must live by the love of what we will never see.

This is the secret discipline.

It is a refusal to let the creative act be dissolved

in immediate sense experience

and a stubborn commitment

to the future of our grandchildren.


Such disciplined love

is what has given prophets, revolutionaries and saints

the courage to die

for the future they envisaged.

They make their own bodies

the seed of their highest hope.


In so many ways, the people of South Sudan and the missionaries of Solidarity are following this path.  “Red” martyrdom—the shedding of one’s blood—certainly and tragically occurs, in South Sudan and across the world.  What has, however, been termed “white” martyrdom—the choice, renewed daily, to commit oneself to acts and gestures of hope and to make one’s entire life a testament to Christian hope—offers us a witness just as profound.


“We are an Easter People.  Alleluia is our song”—Saint Augustine of Hippo

Date Published:

26 March 2024


Fr David Gentry, Mission Promoter

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Latest news, South Sudan, Solidarity, Easter, Mother Earth, Hope, Mission

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