Monday, April 22, 2019

Easter joy, and what Easter helps us to do.

One of the greatest joys of Easter is that it gives us the ability to be joyful despite the fact that our lives may be immersed in darkness and in states of non-resolution.  The fact that our faith is predicated on the resurrection of Jesus gives us ample reason to continue in our pursuit of love and righteousness and truth, even if these don’t appear to be given any form of vindication whatsoever in our lives.  

Why I say this is because on Calvary, as Jesus was left hanging on the ignominious cross, everything that Jesus stood for, and lived for, appeared to have been in vain.  Abandoned by his disciples save one, he experienced deep betrayal and rejection, and heard the clamour of the crowds wanting to spare the life of a brigand instead of his.  He was accused of blasphemy when he was merely speaking the truth, and he had no intention of seeking revenge on his abusers, and sought instead to forgive them.  On the surface of things, it did seem that all that he believed in, lived for and stood for, made not a scintilla of difference.

But his greatest vindication was yet to come.

His resurrection from the dead, leaving the tomb empty with just the grave cloths as its contents made all that he stood for truly worth it, even though at the time, it really did not make any sense.

We need to take this truth for our faith and apply it each time when in our lives we want to pursue anything with faith, love, honesty, integrity, righteousness and with truth, especially when our efforts at staying the course makes little or no difference.  

Examples of these abound. Think of the times when a spouse makes the decision to stay in a loveless marriage, and chooses to forgive a philandering spouse over and over again; or when one does not stop being kind and charitable to one’s office colleagues despite being betrayed by the blanket term ‘office politics’; or when one strives to be positive and of good cheer despite being told one is in stage-four cancer and that the tumor markers are off the charts; or simply when one faces opposition and an icy situation at work or even in the parish setting where even the slightest gesture of cordialness is met with the coldness of a granite obelisk.  To keep positive and to not give up and throw in the proverbial towel at such times can be so tempting.  

This is when Easter’s resurrection and the empty tomb holds the greatest promise for us.  We need to remember that all the fruits of what Jesus stood for in terms of love and truth and fidelity to the Father’s will were not tasted on Calvary.  The sweetness of their fruit only came at the resurrection.

A culture of instant gratification militates against this, and does it so strongly.  Our vindication will, for most of us, come only after we die. We need to know that our efforts while we are still alive, to pursue all that we do with the virtues of Christ, will, because of evil, be either stymied or blocked in our lifetime.  

But living in faithfulness and hope will only make any sense if we imbue the attitude of delayed gratification and apply the virtue of patience.  The promise of the resurrection is certainly not one of instant results, and that also isn’t the message of the gospel.  The Italians have a phrase that sums it up – gia ma non ancora.  It means “already, but not yet”.

Indeed, Easter’s great joy, celebrated so intensely each year, is a reminder to all of us to never give up hope despite all that may be against us.  Alleluia needs to be our war cry when we battle the forces of evil in life.

A blessed Easter to all.

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