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"Hospitality - Visible Sign of the Resurrection" - Prior General

Easter 2014
Circular Letter of the Prior General

  To all Brothers, Co-workers and Members of the Hospitaller Family of St John of God

We are now on the eve of Holy Week after having passed through the experiences of Lent, leading us towards the celebration of Easter, the time when we will be able to joyfully celebrate the feast of the Resurrection and life for fifty days. I wish you all a happy and blessed Easter!

As you know, we are continuing to celebrate the Provincial Chapters throughout the Order, following the calendar we had previously established. We have already held the Chapters of the Asia and Oceania Provinces and most of the European Provinces. After Easter we shall hold the Chapters of the remaining Provinces of Europe, Africa and America. You can keep in touch with the events regarding the Chapters, as well as the composition of the new Provincial Definitories, by consulting the Order’s webpage.

These Chapters are proving to be a wonderful experience of hospitality and fraternity, in which the presence of the Holy Spirit is accompanying us and encouraging us to plan the future of the Provinces, driven on by the hope that springs from knowing that our apostolic project is God’s project, and with the boldness that our Lord’s power instils in us.

Easter is a time of hope and boldness, which are grounded on the Risen Lord. The women were dejected after the death of their Master, and very fearful when the great earthquake struck, and they were visited by an angel while the stone blocking the entrance to the tomb was rolled to one side. But the angel told them, DO NOT BE AFRAID, FOR HE HAS RISEN! The news of the Resurrection, which was later confirmed when they met Him personally, was what dispelled their fears and their sadness, discouragement and their sense of hopelessness. That recharged them, and showed them that life was above death, sin and suffering. It was this that made them bold, and enabled them to go on giving their lives to build up the Kingdom of God, knowing that, despite everything, the last word would be life and resurrection, life in its fullness.

In today’s world, too, the words that the angel spoke to the women, Do not be afraid, for he has risen, ring out powerfully for us. The difficulties and the challenges we are currently facing are considerable, and in some cases huge, but Easter, our Lord’s Resurrection, urges us to open up our hearts and to view everything through the eyes of faith in order to cast out our fears and shake off any discouragement, to restore hope and grow in boldness and courage, so that we can continue pursuing our mission, focusing on practising hospitality, which is a visible sign of the Resurrection.

According to St Matthew’s Gospel, which we shall be reading this year at the Easter Vigil, the women not only received the news from the angel but afterwards they personally experienced an encounter with the Risen Christ, and it was they whom the Lord sent to tell the disciples that he would come to them, and that they would see him in Galilee. For it was in Galilee that Jesus had originally called them to follow him. Now, once again in the same place, they would be meeting the Risen Jesus and it would be from there, refreshed and renewed by the power of the Holy Spirit, by the hope and the boldness of the Risen Christ, that the disciples would begin their new mission of spreading the Good News of the Gospel to all the world. It was not to be a triumphal march; they would have to discover him and be his witnesses in the day-to-day world, the real world, with all its poverties, riches, sufferings and contradictions. But nothing would be able to stop them, because the spirit of the Risen Christ would always be with them.

We can see a certain similarity between this and the experience of Saint John of God, our Founder, in the period in his life to which I referred in my greetings card for his Feast this year. After his encounter with the Lord and discerning his vocation, he was called to return to Granada, because it was there that the Lord was waiting for him, and it was there that he would meet Him. And so it was. And every day, for the rest of Saint John of God’s life, the Risen Lord met him in the poor, in the sick and in the needy, such that he identified fully with the poor Christ, by becoming one of them. By experiencing that meeting, he discovered Jesus every day and he gave himself unreservedly for the sake of His Kingdom. And he always did so with enthusiasm and great boldness. For Saint John of God, Granada was his private Galilee where the Lord had summoned him to be.

And we are also invited to return to Galilee which is the place where each and every one of us are called to meet the Risen Christ and to give ourselves to the mission of hospitality with the same energy, enthusiasm and courage as Saint John of God’s. And that will be possible if we try to live as risen people ourselves, day by day, committed to overcoming fear, sadness and anything else that paralyses us. For the Risen Christ is waiting for us in our own private Galilee, to fill us with life, to invite us to rise up from everything within us that has to do with death, the past, gloom and pain, and to send us out to bear witness to Him, showing hospitality to poor, sick and needy people of all kinds, inviting them to be filled with the life of the Risen Lord.

With my best wishes for a Happy and Blessed Easter, I send you my affectionate greetings, united with you all in the Risen Lord and in our Father, Saint John of God.

 

Bro. Jesús Etayo

Superior General

 

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