Il-messaġġ tal-Arċisqof Charles Jude Scicluna
The Easter narrative we celebrate today is intrinsically linked to the Biblical Exodus, that passage of the people of Israel from slavery in Egypt to the pilgrimage of freedom and the Promised Land.
In preparation for this sacred night of freedom, the people of God were invited by Moses to make unleavened bread for their journey to the Promised Land – just using flour and water – because there was no time for the yeast to take effect: they had to get out of Egypt immediately.
This flight from slavery was motivated by a deep yearning for freedom. The leaven that puffs up with pride was left behind; the leaven that is tainted by corruption of age and time discarded. Henceforth, unleavened bread became a symbol of humility and a newly found purity.
On Easter Sunday, the Church recites a reading from St Paul – from his first letter to the Corinthians – that conjures imagery of the unleavened bread.
“Do you not know that a little yeast leavens all the dough? Clear out the old yeast, so that you may become a fresh batch of dough, inasmuch as you are unleavened. For our paschal lamb, Christ, has been sacrificed. Therefore, let us celebrate the feast, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”
At Easter we are called upon to remember that life is too short to be wasted in anger, in wrath, in malice and wickedness.
The unleavened bread, made in haste as the clock ticks unrelentingly, reflects our urgent yearning for beauty, truth and love as well as portraying our desire to discard the old yeast contaminated by malice and wickedness.
When Pope Francis was among us just before Easter last year, this theme featured in his thoughts.
“Honesty, justice, a sense of duty and transparency are the essential pillars of a mature civil society,” he said. “May your commitment to eliminate illegality and corruption be strong, like the north wind that sweeps the coasts of this country.
“May you always cultivate legality and transparency which will enable the eradication of corruption and criminality, neither of which acts openly and in broad daylight.”
Corruption can be ethical, political or personal.
Corruption can be ethical, political or personal. Easter is a time when we can make decisions to abandon the yeast of pride and self-sufficiency and adopt the unleavened bread of humility, sincerity and truth.
The Holy Father also reminded us that our beloved national anthem is in itself a prayer to God to protect the land, and called on all of us to care for the environment. “In Malta, where the luminous beauty of the landscape alleviates difficulties, creation appears as the gift that, amid the trials of history and life, reminds us of the beauty of our life on earth,” he said.
Our society is not enriched by money, possessions or status; but by an understanding of, and appreciation for, the telling words of the Apostle Paul that were eloquently conveyed to us in person by the Holy Father.
At the Easter Liturgy, we celebrate a new beginning and a new creation. We bless the fire, we bless water. As a community of Christians, we welcome adults who have decided to become part of the Christian family in Baptism. And we, the baptised, renew our baptismal promises.
At the offertory, we carry to the altar the unleavened bread, of which hosts are made, which – through the prayer of the Church, the Words of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit – is transformed into the body and blood of Jesus Christ, the Risen Lord.
As we celebrate Easter with the unleavened bread of freedom, sincerity and truth, let us acknowledge that we, too, need to make this journey: from the slavery of our sins, malice, corruption and greed to the freedom of solidarity, compassion, sincerity and truth.
It is a feast to which we are all invited. All we have to do is say ‘yes’.
I wish everyone a Blessed Easter.
✠ Charles Jude Scicluna
Arċisqof ta’ Malta
This article was first published on The Sunday Times of Malta