Friday, April 22, 2011

Easter reflections

Easter reflections
By The Post
Fri 22 Apr. 2011, 04:00 CAT

This is a long weekend and it gives us enough time to do a lot of things. But this is not time for excessive drinking and merriment. Easter is the time when, above all other times, we should pause to remember the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

That first Easter, as light was breaking through the darkness of night, the resurrection was slowly dawning on the followers of Jesus.

Today there are many dark places in our country where people find themselves feeling isolated and alone, longing for a ray of light to pierce the darkness and new possibilities to emerge.

Humanity lives in the shadow of death, and the start of this year has reminded us of this fact all too starkly.

While natural disasters hit our brothers and sisters in some parts of our planet through floods, cyclones, landslides and earthquakes, our brothers and sisters in North Africa and the Middle East have wrestled with political upheaval and civil unrest.

This Easter, our world is coming to terms with the terrible natural disasters that have struck our planet, as well as the wave of political and social unrest in North Africa, Middle East and the atrocities occurring in Ivory Coast.

We hope you will spare some time praying for the victims of these tragedies and offering your support in whatever way you can.

And still famine, drought and war shape the living and dying of so many people around the globe every day.

It is into this world of darkness and death that we should proclaim the light of Christ.

The Easter story is no fairytale which papers over the stark reality of human life.

Christ’s Passion and death echoes our own encounters with death, with the abuse of power, with the experience of desolation and helplessness, with the sheer challenge of peace-making and justice-seeking.

St Paul wrote that if we have shared in Christ’s death, we shall also share in Christ’s resurrection (Romans 6:5).

This Easter, may we accompany Christ through death and the tomb to the promise of life in all its fullness.

May we discover once again the sorrows of this world giving way to the joy that comes from life with God, who is making all these things new.

This is the time to remember the sacrifice of others on our behalf, through selfless love and commitment.

This is time to remember those who gave their lives for our wellbeing, for justice, peace and freedom.

And this is time to honour those currently serving to defend justice and rebuild nations ravaged by conflicts.

At Easter, we should remember a sacrifice that goes to the ultimate and transcends territorial disputes.

We should remember the life and death of Jesus Christ, who was deployed by God on a mission to establish peace and hope for a world that has lost its bearings.

His sacrifice of death on a cross achieved a peace that was much deeper than the mere absence of fighting.

He achieved a restored relationship with God who loves us unconditionally and believes in our future.

This Easter, let us thank God for the service and sacrifice of Jesus, which has enabled us to experience ultimate freedom and peace through the forgiveness of God.

When you look at the way Jesus Christ challenged the status quo and advocated a different way of life, it is little wonder that the authorities felt threatened and compelled to silence him.

His suffering on the way to the cross when he was beaten and crowned with thorns only serves to demonstrate his humanness and the capacity of the powerful to crush the powerless.

But in his powerlessness, Christ becomes powerful by saying his purpose in coming into the world was to “bear witness to the truth”, which, as Pope Benedict writes, means “giving priority to God and to his will over and against the interests of the world and its powers”.

Violence, natural disasters and the ordinary difficulties of life can become the grid through which we view our lives. They impact our moods, our work, our families and our sense of self.

We all know that the darkness of life can be overwhelming.

When hope is dashed, we view life as a burden. The Easter story, however, is about hope born out of despair.

The disciples did not believe that Jesus would rise from the dead, that light would outshine darkness, that hope would triumph.

There is much injustice in the world and we are called by the Lord to follow his footsteps.

He says to us, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:29-30).

We are called to be a voice to the voiceless and the oppressed. We have a duty to defend their dignity and human rights.

And this must be done with Christian love and charity at all times.

We have a duty towards the poor and the suffering to find practical means to alleviate their pain.

We have a duty to do good wherever we can.

This Easter, we should pray to Christ to teach us to love and care as he did, and to be compassionate towards each other; we should pray and work for peace and harmony amongst all people of the world.

What God has done at Easter is much more than all the floods, cyclones, fires, earthquakes, wars and tsunamis which have hit our world so ruthlessly in the last few months.

Taking our place in this world of uncertainty and conflict, the son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, died and was raised again to open up life from death, to give us a new start and hope in him.

Christ liberated us so that we can be free. He liberates us in truth, from sin, death and our own selfishness.

Easter to us means a new creation. By virtue of the exaltation of the Lord, we are new creatures who march toward the completeness of our being, in a similar way to Christ, the perfect image of the Father. Therefore, also by virtue of Easter, we are “God’s image”.

Recreated by the death and resurrection of Christ, we are integrally liberated.

This liberation comes into all aspects of our being and necessarily transforms the structures of sin.

The inner conversion expresses a rapport to what is social.

Converts, recreated in love, know their way to their brothers and sisters through new forms of unity and of meaningful solidarity.

True justice and holiness are the essential qualities of a new human being.

We live as one immersed in the fertile stream of a continuous rebirth, which gets us nearer to the realisation of the promise.

Therefore, it is more of a reality when we talk about the person-we-will-be than when we talk about the person-we-are-today.

The true person is a possible conquest to the grace of God.

Easter enables us to see the very sense of freedom, which is possible only by our approach to God and others.

We are free when we know the way to enter into communion with others, supported and prodded by means of a deep communion with others.

It is false to claim that there is a choice by means of which we should choose between being true to God or to humankind, just as if the first option would make servants of us, or subjects.

Easter is a somewhat real experience which, in fact, the disciples had. It was one experience of Jesus and of his freedom in a way that was absolutely new to them; they felt themselves beginning to share that liberty of existing for their neighbours.

The statement: Jesus is the Lord…liberates from enslavement, the centre of relative loyalty…

His own history will not be seen, but the history of all humankind, in the light of the unique history of Jesus of Nazareth and Easter…

The disciples found themselves caught in something like the freedom of Jesus himself, transformed into free beings even to face death without fear.

Easter leads to victory in a dramatic fight between light and darkness for the liberation of that complete being called human, body and soul, present and social.

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