Victorian faith leaders share their messages as Easter, Passover and Ramadan coincide

Peace, hope, love and freedom.

These are the common threads in the religious messages of Victorian faith leaders as Easter, Ramadan and Passover coincide on the weekend.

Reverend Dr Simon Holt, of the Collins Street Baptist Church, leads The Way of the Cross commemoration on Good Friday in Melbourne.Credit: Joe Armao

For the 41 per cent of Victorians who identify as Christian according to the last census, the Easter weekend marks the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ – a time for family gatherings across the state. Orthodox Christians will wait until next weekend to celebrate.

Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne Peter Comensoli’s Easter message this year draws attention to three things from the resurrection of Christ.

“Jesus recognises us personally; he invites us to peace; and he sends us out,” Comensoli said.

“He says to us, ‘Follow me’, that we might live each day illumined by his resurrection, as the reason for our hope. So, may our lives be filled with the energy, joy and youthfulness of the risen Jesus, knowing that, in him, I am recognised, I am healed, and I am sent.”

Anglican Archbishop Philip Freier, who last year used his message to highlight the moral culpability of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, this year spoke of the lasting significance of Easter to humankind.

“Those who love Jesus live in both the now and the not-yet. The now has been transformed into one of love, joy and hope, while the not-yet is the perfect fulfilment of God’s promises and of fellowship with him which awaits us,” Freier said.

Muslim Victorians, who constitute a little over 4 per cent of the state according to the last census, have been fasting during daylight hours since March 22 when the Islamic holy month of Ramadan began.

Islamic Council of Victoria president Adel Salman said Muslims were physically deprived, but spiritually nourished during Ramadan through reflection, worship, good deeds, and charitable works. He asked for consideration for those suffering from earthquakes in Syria and Turkey.

“Ramadan is a time for the individual to focus on strengthening one’s awareness of the Almighty, whilst at the same time one’s concern and empathy for fellow human beings, especially those that are suffering and in difficult circumstances here and around the world, including [in] Syria and Turkey following the devastating earthquakes,” he said.

“Despite the enormous challenges, we must never lose hope in God’s mercy and divine wisdom.”

Meanwhile, Victoria’s Jewish community began celebrating Passover on Wednesday night, with the eight-day festival ending next Thursday. The holiday commemorates the Israelites escaping slavery in Ancient Egypt.

Rabbi Moshe Khan, vice president of the Rabbinical Council of Victoria, said Jews celebrate Passover by eating Matzah, a flat bread which symbolises humility and the abandonment of ego.

A crowd outside St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne on Good Friday.Credit: Joe Armao

“Passover, the holiday of freedom, is a time to let go,” Khan said.

“For some that can mean to stop holding a grudge. It’s not always about who is right and wrong, it’s about living joyfully.

“Take a deep breath and let go of the baggage holding us back, imagine you pick up the phone and called a friend or family member you have not spoken to in while because of a fight you might have had in the past.

“Today is a time to let go of our ego, thus enabling us to move forward.”

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