April 2020: Ethiopia: Fasika, time for reflection

Fasika a time for reflection and celebration

 The opposite of love is not hate, but indifference, says the Jewish scholar Elie Wiesel

This year we are experiencing a situation with the Covid pandemic that we have never seen before, but it is an “enlightenment” of how real life suffering is experienced by our Lord in Scripture.

In our Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Easter has a much greater spiritual meaning than the others – by the way, very many! – Public holidays. God shows us what true love means by exposing His own Son to immeasurable pain, suffering and death. This is a great lesson for us in Ethiopia, indeed for people in general, to recognize what we were ultimately created for: love and care for one another, taking care of one another, helping the needy and sharing what we have. That is what we can all do as human beings. Strict fasting and selflessness leads us here to celebrate Easter, we call it Fasica, as the central event in our lives.

People come together at Fasika to celebrate. This year – worldwide – this is not possible like other years. But it remains an important religious and cultural activity for our community, our society. What can we do? PBF recognizes the importance of this festival and makes it possible again in this Corona year in Lalibela, which is called the «Second Jerusalem». Very few of us would be able to take part in the celebrations today, also because we lack the material resources.

This year we were lucky enough to get support from PBF to create a special celebration for the elderly, disabled and lonely for the first time. We bought two hundred candles for brightening the night. We wanted to bring light to the people mentioned in their darkness and to make it clear that there is also hope in suffering. We also made a feast possible. According to old tradition, oxen are slaughtered. Mesay was able to buy two oxen. We, a group of committed PBF members, distributed the meat to our needy. Most of them live alone in bitter poverty and can only hope to eat meat at Fasika. This was a special day in Lalibela and we are pleased that thanks to PBF we have come a bit closer to the Easter message for and with our people. Even in this difficult year.

Getachew Sale