“I Luke, send a message to all those who follow our Lord Jesus Christ. There is a terrible evil in the world, darkness is spreading. I know you are suffering persecution. Faith is being tested. I write to bring hope and light in this present darkness and to remind us all of how God changed the history of the world”.
With these words Jim Caviezel, who portrays St. Luke, describes the plight of the early Church at the beginning of the movie; ‘Paul, Apostle of Christ’. These words of Luke are even more pertinent today where the world is a deeply divided place. The millennials (also known as Generation Y after Generation X, born between the late 1980’s and early 2000s) name three most serious issues affecting the world today at the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) annual Global Shapers survey: Climate change, large-scale wars and religious conflicts. Pope Francis corroborates this data by raising the question that if Christ is raised from the dead then why is there still “illnesses, human trafficking, human exploitation, wars, destruction, mutilations, vengeance and hatred?” On the domestic front, the CBCI’s Biennial report of 2018 highlighted the disturbing signs of cultural and religious dominance affecting our beloved country.
In such a stark overview of the world state of affairs, Easter breaks through its rays of light and hope in the risen Lord who had suffered an ignominious death. God is Love (1 Jn 4:16). God conquers death for us by absorbing all the hatred and dysfunctions of the world on the Cross. In His Resurrection He ushers in divine life and unveils for us the real meaning and destiny of human life. St. Paul characterizes the life of a Christian as a constant participation in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ: “We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in the newness of life” (Rom 6:4). We are called upon to participate in this New Life by believing in the victory that Jesus has won and appropriate its power through the path of the Paschal Mystery of dying to self and rising to new life. The ancient proverb holds true: “They buried us, but they did not know that we were seeds!”
Through the power of being born from above as Jesus told Nicodemus we can see and enter the Kingdom of God (Jn 3:3). It means our daily mundane life will become radiant with the glory of the risen Lord. Suffering will not end in despair. We will find a new vision and joy in all circumstances of life (Phil 4:4), thus making us truly an Easter people! Even though we may lose jobs, loved ones, financial security, freedoms, good health and confidence in our future happiness, but we will still have God. He remains. He does not shift with the wind or with our woes. He is forever. Love is forever. No one can take that away from us. Hope abounds.
Further this hope is not based on a superficial optimism that is blind to the reality of suffering in the world. Rather, it is a deep trust in God and His love for us. This love urges on to shine the light in us to the world overcoming every form of darkness. It drives us to bring justice and peace in a conflict ridden world (Mt 5:6). In response to his question on suffering, wars, human tragedies in the world, Pope Francis affirms the adversities of life but at the same time calls us to hope in a God who’s in front of us by saying : ‘I don’t know how this is going, but I’m sure that Christ has risen.’ St. Paul testifies to this Easter proclamation when he says: ‘I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me’ (Phil 4:13). Have a Blessed Easter.
by Fr. Anthony Alphonso