Extract from the Archbishop of Armagh’s Easter Day Sermon 2017:
‘Do not shrink from honouring Jesus Christ’
I do not believe that any serious Christians here in Ireland can celebrate Easter this year without spiritual reference to those Christians who have died in recent times as they made public acknowledgement of their faith. There are those who died in Egypt on Palm Sunday, knowing that publicly professing their faith in communal worship would place them at terrible risk. There are also those who, last Easter Day, were murdered in a suicide bomb in a park in Pakistan, where they gathered following their Easter worship. And there are many others who, today, are risking their lives to proclaim publicly their faith in the risen Lord Jesus Christ.
We must pray for all of them, but we must also accept the challenge. Would we be in this cathedral today if there was even the remotest chance that we would be murdered for our faith as we left this place, having given witness to our Christian faith by our presence here?
‘Living in a culture where, throughout this island, the Christian Church is something that many people now find themselves unable to respect, and we may indeed share the frustrations and even the anger of people with the inadequacies and the failures of the institutional Church, we should never allow that to lead us to deny Jesus Christ, who is not the cause or the source of our failures.
‘If we are to honour Jesus Christ, not only on an Easter Day but in every aspect of our lives (and also – in a subsidiary way – also honour those who have died making public acknowledgement of their faith in him), it can only be when we do not shrink from being known and seen as people whose lives are based, first and foremost, on the person of Christ.
Unlike many of our Christian brothers and sisters in other parts of the world, we are unlikely to be called to risk our lives by acknowledging our faith in Christ. It should never be fear of the contempt of others, even less simple laziness or apathy, that prevents us from being numbered and recognised among those for whom their discipleship – flawed and defective though it may be – is still their first consideration in every aspect of their lives.