by Sr. Jo Anne Kelly MMM Ireland 18.04.2022
For some years I lived in Ibadan, Nigeria. It is a vast city with a huge population. Many of the people of our parish lived in overcrowded apartments with inadequate shared facilities and an unreliable source of water especially in the long dry season. But there was nothing inadequate about their zest for life, their ability to make the best of what they had, and their belief in a God who “was in control “of everything.
On Holy Saturday night we all gathered some distance from our Church door around a huge bonfire, sticks dried by the long dry season, crackling and spitting flames into the air and sparks flying into the night sky, excited children’s faces lighted up by the blaze.
The fire was blessed and from it, with the help of a long stick, was lighted the Paschal Candle, symbol of the Risen Christ. Individual candles were then lighted and we processed to the church proclaiming “Christ our Light”. It was solemn and reverent and I had a real feeling of deep joy. The celebration of the Eucharist was beautiful, a mixture of exuberant music, song and dance with meaningful prayerful silence. It was so uplifting. Afterwards we wished each other a Happy Easter and went home in the early hours of the morning.
On Easter Sunday, families celebrated at home. St. Mark tells us that when the women were leaving the empty tomb on Easter morning, they met Jesus and He said” Do not be afraid, go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, they will see me there.”
So, on Easter Monday our parish went to Galilee. Our ”Galilee” was our parish compound, the only open space we had. Around noon, families gathered, men in flowing robes, women in colourful gowns of all designs and a variety of beautiful head dresses and children in their new Easter outfits. Some brought benches or stools, many brought mats to lay on the ground and all brought something to eat and to share. There was something for everyone and especially for those who perhaps could not bring anything. The musicians were there and the dancers. The place was alive with music, song and goodwill. Songs of praise and thanksgiving abounded. It was a truly joyful gathering. I have no doubt the Risen Lord was in our midst and we did see Him there. We met Him in each other.