At Easter, Humanity is “restored to image, likeness of God”: Archbishop in South Africa

Archbishop Buti Joseph Tlhagale of South Africa's Johannesburg Archdiocese. Credit: Sacred Photos ZA/Sheldon Reddiar

The celebration of Easter commemorates the event that restored humanity’s image and likeness of God that had been established at creation and lost with the original sin, a Catholic Archbishop in South Africa has said.

Easter “is a reminder to us that men and women are restored to their image and likeness of God”, Archbishop Buti Joseph Tlhagale said.

Archbishop Tlhagale who was presiding over Chrism Mass in his Archdiocese of Johannesburg explained, “The image and likeness of God had been lost because of the sin of Adam. Now, through Christ's death and resurrection, the image of being like God of the likeness of God is restored in each one of us in its fullness.”

“Through the mystery of incarnation, through God's love, Christ the new Adam is the light that shows, that reveals the status, the honor, the glory endowed on each person on each one of us,” the South African Catholic Archbishop said.

He underscored the redemptive nature of the Easter Season. 


Easter celebrations “are a forceful reminder that all things were made through him; that all things were redeemed through him; that he is the head of the Church, and we are members of his body, and that Jesus Christ is the center of our lives,” the South African Archbishop said in reference to the person of Jesus Christ.

“This period of Easter is also a period of renewal, of reinvigoration, a period that gives life or should give life to each one of us,” the Local Ordinary of Johannesburg Archdiocese said during the April 14 Chrism Mass.

Addressing himself to members of the Clergy, Archbishop Tlhagale made reference to the first Encyclical Letter of Pope John Paul II, which provided a blueprint for his Papacy as he explored contemporary human challenges and especially their proposed solutions that he said would be founded in a deeper understanding of the human person.

“The Easter Season is an ideal time to revisit Pope John Paul's Encyclical Letter on the redemption of humankind, Redemptor Hominis,” the Catholic Church leader who has been at the helm of Johannesburg Archdiocese since June 2003 said.

In his Encyclical Letter, Archbishop Tlhagale said, Pope John Paull II “pleads with us, urges us, he encourages us, he enjoins us, all of us, each one of us to appropriate, to assimilate, to make part of us, part of our very being.”

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The 75-year-old Archbishop encouraged members of the Clergy under his pastoral care to seek God’s love and mercy, through reconciliation with God the Father who gave His only begotten Son Jesus Christ for the love of humanity.

For the sake of humankind, for the sake of each one of us, Archbishop Tlhagale said, “God made his only son to be sin He who knew no sin, and through the crucifixion of His only son, God reveals His love and mercy to each one of us. Jesus Christ, therefore, is the embodiment of the love and mercy of God the father.”

The Local Ordinary of Johannesburg urged the people of God under his pastoral care “to make the paschal mystery of the Crucifixion and death of Christ an integral part of our very being on this earth.”

The paschal mystery needs “to make sense throughout our spiritual journey of these teachings of the Gospel about ourselves and our relationship with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit,” Archbishop Tlhagale further said.

He continued, “We are invited by the Gospel to get closer and closer to Christ; after all, Christ is the one who redeems or through whom each one of us is given as it were, a pledge, a guarantee of eternal life.”


This year’s Chrism Mass in the Archdiocese of Johannesburg saw the participation of the Laity for the first time after two years of lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sheila Pires is a veteran radio and television Mozambican journalist based in South Africa. She studied communications at the University of South Africa. She is passionate about writing on the works of the Church through Catholic journalism.