Where is love?

Easter message by Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, president of Caritas Internationalis

“Where is love?” This was the question asked by the young orphan boy Oliver Twist, in the 1960s musical Oliver, when he felt alone and abandoned. This is a song that touched me deeply when I was a boy. It’s a very human question many of us ask ourselves when life is hard or when we see injustices in our own or in the lives of others.

This was also the question of Christ on the cross when he cried out, “My God, why have you forsaken me?” Where was love when Jesus was betrayed, abandoned by his friends and crucified like a criminal?

Sometimes we find ourselves in a dark place, like Jesus on the cross, and our lives can seem loveless.  Sometimes, when injustices run riot and tyrants reign, it seems like the whole world is in a dark place. But if we look more carefully at people and at situations, it is then that we see love revealing itself.

On Jesus’ journey – his Calvary – to the cross and beyond, in the sea of hate surrounding him, there were also intense moments of love: the women and John, who braved the sorrow of standing at the foot of the cross when everyone else had abandoned him; the good thief, who broke the stereotype of the unrepentant delinquent and asked to be remembered when Jesus came into his Kingdom; Joseph of Arimathea, who overcame his fear of being an open follower of Christ to ask Pilate for his body; Nicodemus who generously gave vast quantities of myrrh and aloes to embalm Christ’s body; the women who went to the tomb on the third day to tend to the body, even though they had no idea how to move the boulder blocking its entrance; and even Pilate, who saw the injustice of the situation and wanted to release Jesus.

The one thing all these actions have in common is that they seem almost insignificant, especially if you compare them to the violence of the crucifixion and all that had gone before it. What difference can one act of kindness make in the face of unrelenting evil?

The answer is, it can make all the difference in the world in ways you can’t even imagine. What we must always remember is that it is these small acts of care and love that are crowned by the total self-giving love of Christ crucified on the cross.

Since the time of Christ, who tended to the poor and healed the sick and welcomed outcasts, our faith has been built on encounters and on people who give themselves up so that they see people and their situations with a deep understanding.

We are called as Christians to encounter others and walk with them humbly, without judgement or notions of having the answer to all their problems. It is through these encounters that our hearts are opened and presented with a new horizon and a renewed energy to move forward. It is through these encounters that the spirit transforms the hearts of communities and together we build the Kingdom of God.

Transformation comes slowly and often hidden from the human eye. Over the past year, Caritas has planted thousands of actions of love across the world through its Share the Journey campaign. These seemingly small actions, like the mustard seed, will grow and reach far beyond our time on this earth.

We have been encouraging our communities to reach out to migrants and refugees, to share a meal, and now we ask them to walk 1 million kilometres across the world together with migrants and refugees.

Communities in Syria, Chile, Burkina Faso, New Zealand, Iraq, Somalia, Thailand, Colombia, Tonga, Greece, Poland, France, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, India, Canada Honduras, Morocco, Portugal, Costa Rica, Italy, USA and the United Kingdom have been walking with migrants and refugees and more are planning to join.

We invite you to seize the power of love unleashed by the risen Christ this Easter, and with the love you have received, spread seeds of hope across the world. We invite you to Share the Journey with migrants and refugees by walking with them.

Caritas is love, but love is not just a word, it’s a lifestyle of really seeing, encountering and understanding other people. It is the lifestyle of being for and living for others in the belief that light will always overcome darkness so that we can be one together.