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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter...The Light Shines Forth...

Imagine this scenario…a person is diagnosed with terminal cancer and is given less than six months to live, another suffers from severe hypertension as a result of work stress…financial difficulties, a family greeted a newborn bundle of joy yet suffering from muscular dystrophy, an elderly parent suffers an acute heart attack, the despised, the marginalized, the outcast, the parent alone in the old folks home, the person who has just lost his or her job…what seems to be the commonality of these tragic and lonely circumstances in a joyful season such as Easter?

For these people, on Easter day, words fail them…hope has abandoned them…they feel Jesus might have forgotten about them.

This perception is compounded by the fact that the commercial and popular Easter message of today carries the familiar images of the Easter egg, the Easter bunny, festive meals, euphoric mumbo jumbo celebrations...  If one googles Easter, images of flowers, chocolates, pastel colors, eggs and bunnies fill the search results.

Churches preach that Easter means there is hope of a silver lining behind every dark cloud…  Alleluia! Alleluia! Christ is risen! The Light has come!  Easter brings meaning only with Jesus being the center of it.  It is only because of Jesus that we have Easter.  If is only because of Jesus that we have life.

For the earlier mentioned people, the empty tomb, the joyful Easter message and the ‘happy ending’ to Lent may not connect so clearly with them; especially given their real life experiences.  To them, they perhaps feel more of the darkness of the tomb, the chill, the cold and abandonment in the tomb, the loneliness and hopelessness.  What then is the true meaning of Easter for us today?

The empty tomb, even the disciples thought that the body has been stolen…the Easter message of the resurrection was not proclaimed in an ever so high profile manner.  Simply reserved and quiet seems to be the way the Easter message is carried.

“Easter brings no escape from suffering and death.  The last enemy is still with us and, in company with Jesus, each individual has to pass through this valley.  For the world there is no escape from injustice, war, grinding poverty, famine and disease.  No magic wand has been waved to banish these things, no divine recipe handed out for their instant solution.

The post-Easter world is still in the hands of frail, confused, sinful people like ourselves who have to use minds and energy to wrestle with its ills.  …The devil, it is said, has received a mortal blow but, dangerous as any wounded beast, still goes about seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8)…we may in the light of Easter be enjoying the firstfruits, a foretaste of the harvest, but the harvest itself is not yet come.” (Peter Cornwell, On the River’s Edge, p106)

Easter is hence, a timely reminder for us that death will visit each one of us…death will change life…but never will death end life…  Jesus, we know from Easter, gives us the hope to persevere as pilgrims.

At the end of the day, we should not be overly joyful and complacent, thinking that we are now saved, no matter what we do or say.  We are all still pilgrims travelling along the journey…but, as Christians, we live in hope…only in living out this message of hope that we are saved.  This world remains dark, cold, harsh and lonely, unless we reach out and share this light of Easter…

Just like the church on the eve of this great day, where light from a single Paschal candle makes its way through the darkness,….we must remember that the dark shadows still presses upon us…we must ensure that the flickering candlelight we carry remains burning strong and not become vulnerable to the darkness of the world.

Sharing the light of Christ does not mean simply boasting that we are saved at the expense of others.  We cannot carry the good news unless we empty ourselves of human pride…it means taking a humble stance and with simple and quiet confidence reach out and touch the sick, the elderly, the lonely, the abandoned, the victim, the poor, the differently-abled…and offer them hope in Jesus Christ.

Like the appearance of Jesus on Easter, our free, simple and quiet presence must also offer a sign of assurance and hope to others travelling a similar journey through life; relieving them of fear and despair.

Such hope can affect how others cope with the reality of death here and now.  Our light and presence can comfort them, reassure them, accompany them, love them and give them hope.  We are Easter people and we have been called out of darkness into the marvelous light…this Easter, let us choose to do the same as Jesus in everything we do or say...with everyone we meet.

Jesus Christ is Risen Today, Alleluia!  Let us remind ourselves that the resurrection remains a mystery for all of us…not a single Gospel tells us how this had happened.  What we know is that through Jesus, we can have victory over death.  We are vessels of the living presence of the Risen Christ, bringing hope to many others.  Let us also remind ourselves that Easter would not have been possible without a Good Friday...

From this Easter, we will continue our journey with hope for another 50 days towards Pentecost – the coming of the Holy Spirit…

Meanwhile, let the proclaimation of the hymn of praise, the Exultet your heart.

1 comment:

  1. Aloha, just wanted to say that you have such a beautiful blog! Happy Easter.