Dear Brothers and Sisters,

May the Lord give you peace!

In Piero della Francesca’s Resurrection, Christ stands victorious over death, but if we look closely, we can detect a veil of sorrow in his facial expression. The Crucified and Risen Lord has gone through life and death to the very end. He experienced the reality of the creaturely condition, with its contradictions, right down to the underworld.

Here my thoughts turn to St Francis. At the beginning of his conversion, returning from a dinner with friends, he steps back, stops and experiences a sudden and unknown sweetness, the fruit of an inner visitation of the Spirit (cf. 3Comp 7).

Later, in the encounter with the leper, after his initial instinct to flee because of the repugnance of that decaying body, Francis will finally be able to embrace and kiss him, experiencing that “what seemed bitter to me was changed into sweetness of mind and body” (2Test 3).

Will not that inner source of sweetness now enable him to celebrate Easter with the leper first and then with so many others? The smell of limitation and death has opened him to the sweetness of new life: it is Easter!

The path is marked out for us, and the way is irreversible. Celebrating Easter means not turning our gaze away from human reality in its contradictory bright and dark aspects: the desire to love and to generate full life together with wars, the suffering of the common home, earthquakes, wounds to dialogue and fraternity between people, groups, nations, families, in our Church itself and also in our Fraternity.

How can we fail to recognise the Easter that erupts from these “underworlds” since the grace of the Risen One makes all things new and enables us to remain even in the face of the scandal of evil, which often seems to win out?

In this Centenary of the Rule, a covenant of life, we enthusiastically welcome the call to witness the hope of the Gospel with life and word in the “underworld” and the cracks of light of this difficult time, always loved by God.

In Greccio, Francis listened to the Gospel again, as he wanted to see with others the hardship and poverty in which the Son of God was born. The one who remained with us in the meagre appearance of bread.

The spirit of the Gospel is of the little ones and the poor, free from temptations of power and possessions, enabled to build with patience, and, together with others, oases of fraternity and hope. Here we learn to listen and walk together with many.

Here is an Easter path for us today so that the treasure of the Gospel lived as brothers and sisters may permeate this time afflicted by so much violence and longing for true peace. All this becomes possible if we recognise that we live in an age in which we are walking as “spiritual seekers”, believers in the Crucified and Risen One and inflamed by the fire of Easter on the world’s paths.

My best wishes then become the joyful offering of a few steps of life:

  • The Lenten desert has called us to wrestle closely with the word of God, with ourselves and our hunger, and with the lives of so many forgotten people: let us continue on this path of light!
  • Easter breaks through and overcomes the disenchantment of the disillusioned. Let us allow it to explode in our fears as the promise and beginning of true peace, even in times of war and various “earthquakes”!
  • Let us step out of our too many comfort zones and finally reach out to the other(s) to learn how to weep and smile on the streets teeming with people of all kinds and recognise in them the features of the face of the Living One. Let us dare to become more of an “Outgoing Order”!
  • Let us be sent further by the angels of Easter morning to seek the Risen Christ among the living and not among the dead: let us proclaim him to all in praise and the invitation to conversion!

With the blessing of St Francis, I sincerely wish everyone an Easter of life in and through the reality of humanity today, which so many of us share in different parts of the world.

Your brother and servant

Br. Massimo Fusarelli, ofm   

Minister General