Easter hope and newness of life
The annual Easter celebrates what is at the heart of Christianity as a religion and the profound spiritual experience it engenders. It is about the transformative and revolutionary historical event of the resurrection of Jesus Christ of Nazareth from the darkness of death and the darkness of the grave. This event marked a turning point in the lives of his close disciples and followers who were flooded with fear, insecurity and bewilderment as the religious and political authorities united to finish off their master.
The risen Lord Jesus appeared alive to his dear disciples in their hiding places where they gathered to pray and strengthen one another.
He accompanied them on their journeys, patiently listening to their stories of grief and shock and revealing to them his identity as a risen Lord. He was on their beaches awaiting their return after tiring nights on the high seas, ready to refresh them with food and provide them with pleasant company.
It is paradoxical that his glorified body still bears the wounds of his crucifixion.
However, now that they were no longer bleeding, they instead brought healing and comfort to many others who were hurt physically, psychologically or spiritually. Easter is therefore good news, spearheading the novelty that can give a feeling of freshness to our lives.
Also, Christian Easter is made more significant by the coincidence that Christians begin Easter Week when the whole country of Sri Lanka is already caught in an aura of jubilation with the celebration of the Sinhalese and Hindu New Years. The risen Lord Jesus has given an imposing commission to his disciples to go and teach all nations to observe all that he taught with the promise that his presence will always remain with them until the end of time.
The Easter events formed the new platform for the teachings of Jesus Christ to reach the ends of the Earth.
Christianity, with its message of God’s love for humanity and the call to all peoples to change their lives into a life of love of neighbour, unlimited forgiveness and sharing, continues to be open to all cultures and civilizations across the world even as modernity with the idolatry of hedonism, materialism, individualism and secularism continue to threaten the noblest and highest ideals that can yet be espoused by the modern man.
The opening of Christianity beyond the borders of the land of Jesus into so-called non-Jewish and gentile territories such as the cosmopolitan centers of Athens in Greece, Corinth, Colossi, Philippi, Galatia and Thessalonica of the ancient Middle East has ignited the spark of universalism of religion which was to reach even the imperial city of Rome and its adjoining provinces.
Christianity brought Jews and Gentiles together, destroying all discrimination based on religion, religious rites, ethnicity, race, language and even sex.
Women and children who were marginalized in a patriarchal, hegemonic and autocratic society of the time which ostracized them and deprived them of their basic human rights were welcomed into the center of social life.
She is a woman, in fact a converted public sinner, who had the privilege of having the first experience of the Risen One and who finally became the ambassador of this good news to the other disciples of Jesus who rushed to the tomb. to verify the truth of this strange event.
Jesus had blessed and embraced the little children brought by their mothers seeking his blessing and eventually, during his teachings, held them as signs and symbols of the Kingdom of God challenging adults to be like children s wanted to enter the Kingdom of God.
Jesus had strong words of rebuff to all who would make themselves sources of harm and scandal to children stating unequivocally that it was better for such people to be thrown into the depths of the sea with a millstone hanging from the neck.
How relevant and powerful is this teaching today as we face a diabolical world of child labor, sexual abuse of minors, mistreatment of all kinds, child soldiers and hundreds of thousands of children deprived of basic health, food, clothing, shelter, education and above all a warm home of parental love, security and care.
What about the curse and scourge of illegal abortions that continue to kill even in our own homeland a staggering number of over a thousand innocent unborn babies a day. Aren’t these also crimes against humanity?
These evils against life must be rooted out indeed, if a culture of life is to be propagated and the culture of death with its multiple threats to life is to be stopped.
For life to be renewed and society to be reformed, social change for the better is vital.
Given the prevailing national socio-economic, cultural and political scenario, a radical social shift in attitudes, values and ethics is imperative if a whole new chapter in the modern history of Sri Lanka is to be written.
There is a great deal of social evil with fraud, waste and lack of accountability, transparency and sheer insensitivity clouding the path to prosperity. National politics is abuzz with the clash of diametrically opposed ideologies creating disagreements and dissension even within government authorities. The absence of a unified vision delays action.
The post-Easter period of early Christian communities records impressive gestures of embracing spiritual ideals and courage, social friendship, community support, and sharing of goods, as recorded in the Bible’s Acts of the Apostles.
The three great missionary journeys of the apostle Paul and his great letters to the communities of the ancient cities of the Middle East with his final destiny in imperial Rome, amply testify to the religious, cultural, ethnic and even political renewal that took place with the entry of Christianity. these territories.
Although in Sri Lanka we have the Catholic, Lutheran and Anglican traditions that came with successive colonial powers, the core beliefs and commitments of all Christian communities on the island are the same.
They wish to work with all their good will in interfaith collaboration to build a country that has been battered by a horrible 30-year war and which, due to various circumstances, is currently going through a difficult period of economic downturn and political instability.
Easter is a pledge of hope and newness of life. One can still, with a strong sense of determination, rise above the dust and dirt of misfortune and chart a course for a new landscape of joy, hope, unity and prosperity. .
To this national effort, each religion in this country, including Christianity, will contribute its particular charism and spiritual resources enriching our common spiritual heritage as a country which is an admirable oasis of the world’s oldest and most living religious traditions. .