By Leela Ramdeen, Chair, CCSJ & Director, CREDI
What joy! What an amazing gift! The tomb is empty! Christ is risen! The Scriptures have been fulfilled: “God so loved the world that He gave His Only Son, that everyone who believes in Him might not perish but might have eternal life.”
The night before His crucifixion, Jesus said to His disciples: “A man can have no greater love than to lay down his life for his friends” (Jn 15:13). Jesus did just that; He made the ultimate sacrifice. He suffered, was crucified, died, was buried, and rose again from the dead, redeeming us from original sin and opening the doors of Heaven.
For Christians, Easter is the most important celebration during the Church year, and indeed, it is the most important day in human history.
On this Easter Sunday morning, read the Gospel of Mark 16:1–7. Remember that Jesus’ love is unconditional, boundless. It is good for us Catholics to remember that, as Joanna Fuchs said in her poem:
“Without Easter, the world would be in chaos and darkness. Jesus’ death and resurrection means we can be reborn, to live better, to do better, to shine light into the shadows…”
Reflect on the words of the theologian, Jim Wallis, who said: “The celebration of the Resurrection on this Easter Sunday morning may be saying to us in this COVID-19 moment, I can, and we can make these things that have been revealed—new…What if all that we are learning about our systems and attitudes and relationships in this modern plague that is wrong, brutal, unjust, and unjustifiable were to be made new? That this public health crisis would prompt a resurrection in our hearts and minds, reminding us that we will not go back to ‘normal’. In a post-COVID world, we must come together to choose decisions and actions that make things ‘new.’ Christ is risen. He is risen indeed.”
We are celebrating Easter at a time when the pandemic continues to adversely impact the lives of many around the world. But as Fr Peter Daly has rightly said: “The church has lived through pandemics before. It will survive. But we will be changed.”
Take time today to reflect on God’s mercy also. As Pope Francis has said: “Let us accept the grace of Christ’s resurrection! Let us be renewed by God’s mercy, let us be loved by Jesus, let us enable the power of His love to transform our lives too; and let us become agents of this mercy, channels through which God can water the earth, protect all creation and make justice and peace flourish.”
When I lived in the UK, for many years I worked voluntarily with the late Cardinal Basil Hume. He was the Chair of a Committee he had established, The Cardinal’s Continuing Committee for the Caribbean Community (C5), and I was his Vice-Chair.
His homilies were always spiritually uplifting. In the book: A Turning to God, a compilation of his homilies etc – with a reading from each day from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday, we read: “Easter challenges us each year. Do we believe that Christ truly rose from the dead? Belief in Christ’s Resurrection is fundamental and essential to being a Christian. Christianity makes demands. It is not an easy option. Its founder, Jesus Christ, called for a change of heart, a turning to God. He demanded a change in ways of thinking and behaviour. That call is still being made to us in our day. Shall we listen to it?
“The tomb was empty. Everyone at the time agreed on that, but the Apostles had been slow to understand what had happened. Once Peter and John had verified the fact for themselves, they understood the teaching of the scriptures, that he must rise from the dead. So later on, Peter, addressing Cornelius’ household, told them that they were witnesses to the resurrection of the Lord, and they had to proclaim the good news.
“We have the same duty to give witness to the fact that Christ is risen from the dead. Death has lost its hold over humankind. Death is not, for us, the end of the story. It is the beginning of a new chapter. There is life after death; it is life with God. Our present life is to prepare for that. Lord, may I turn to you each day, know your love, and share it with all those I meet.”
May the risen Christ fill us with courage to face the many challenges of our time. Happy Easter!
Any human society, if it is to be well-ordered and productive, must lay down as a foundation this principle, namely, that every human being is a person, that is, his nature is endowed with intelligence and free will. Indeed, precisely because he is a person, he has rights and obligations flowing directly and simultaneously from his very nature.
St Pope John Paul II, World day of Peace 1995. CCSJ Social Justice Education Committee