Easter is about new life, but the smell of death is all around—murdered women, slaughtered young men, the loneliness of the death by COVID-19, increased homelessness, and toxic relationships.
But Golgotha was a smelly place too, with the stench of rotting corpses. Golgotha was also brutal since the Romans were experts at brutality, Jesus being a victim of that brutality.
Our eyes turn away from that brutality to a softer scene this Easter Sunday morning, a scene as Mark’s gospel tells us, made tender by the visit of women who refuse to give up loving—Mary of Magdala, Mary mother of James, and Salome—symbols of Caribbean women who constantly fight the darkness.
We too must fight the darkness that inhibits love. We need to learn from the women how to anoint the brutality of life with spices. Pope Francis has given us a hint. On March 19, we celebrated St Joseph’s Day, with a special Mass at the Cathedral organised by the National Catholic Men’s Ministry.
It was a jubilant celebration with over 300 persons present, but in the euphoria of the moment we just might have missed a significant detail—it was also the beginning of 15 months dedicated to family life climaxing with the World Meeting of Families in Rome in June 2022.
The Pope recognises that happy family life shields us from the brutality of the world and beckons us to work harder at it in ‘Galilee’— the ordinariness of day-to-day living.
This Easter then should find us asking how can we make family life more lifegiving? Of course, Caribbean family life has always been more extended than nuclear, with an increasing number of single-parent families, and now same-sex couples. We can take away the brutalities of family life, detoxify it, by following a simple recipe of St Paul: “Love is patient and kind” (1 Cor 13:4).
Family members must increasingly commit to ‘time-out’. It’s the only way of preventing the ‘big stone’ of anger from riding roughshod over promising relationships.
We must let our tongue cleave to the roof of our mouth if we remember not the ‘Zion’ of good communication—patience and kindness. Kindness says: “I will be deliberately kind. This stops here!”.
Another way of reducing the brutality is “accompaniment”, as Francis indicates in Amoris Laetitia. Too often the Church marries off couples and leaves them alone to fend for themselves in the early years of marriage. Pre-marriage preparation programmes are not followed by post-marriage accompaniment.
Going it alone often lends to brutality; accompaniment softens it. Accompaniment is an aspect of the “communion of saints”—we shoulder one another’s burdens.
There will always be stones to roll away—not enough money to make ends meet, thousands of poor children outside the online education net, parents anxiously trying to shield their children from gender fluidity, gangs in every major town.
But if that is all we see, our “good news” will turn to “bad news”.
Easter happens when we see the light and bring the light to bear on the brutality of the world through love, patience, kindness, accompaniment, and faithful endurance.
Our families don’t have to be perfect for this to happen. It’s OK if we’re a bit cracked: that way the light gets in.