Easter Sunday and concurrent feast celebrations in other religions embody hope in hard places, writes ANDY HAMILTON SJ, to mark this year’s Easter Sunday celebration.

Easter Sunday in Australia is a time of celebration, of holiday, and a gathering of family. It is a Christian feast, which however is also linked to the neighbouring Jewish feast of the Passover. Both feasts celebrate the foundational work of God in their history: rescuing the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt. Easter celebrate the death and rising of Jesus that Christians take to complete the first Passover. The Muslim celebration of Ramadan similarly recognises the foundational revelation of the Koran to Muhammad.

For many of us and for the people whom we serve, these celebrations will be central in our lives. The story of Easter, which is part of the Christian tradition inherited by Jesuit Social Services, is one of apparent defeat and despair at Jesus’ execution that ends in the joy and victory of his rising from the dead. It is a story of hope against hope, of community arising from isolation, and of glory eclipsing disgrace.

The story of Easter and the other great religious feasts all embody hope in hard places. In that respect they speak to the people whom we accompany at Jesuit Social Services. They have known hard times, illness and poverty. At Easter we celebrate their resilience and the often almost miraculous triumph in them of life over the things that make for death.

This Easter, too, we keep in our hearts the people of Gaza as they celebrate Ramadan. We grieve for them in their suffering and hope that the fasting of Ramadan might lead soon to an Eid of freedom, security and plenty.