by Rosemarie Pace
Pax Christi New York
Ed. Note: At key moments throughout the liturgical year, long-time regional coordinator Rosemarie Pace will offer reflections timed the season with accompanying prayers and suggested actions.
“Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song.”
~ Pope John Paul II
The Easter season is upon us, but we know all is not well on planet Earth. The media remind us daily of violence, pain, and suffering across the globe. Most prominent is the war in Ukraine, but World Population Review lists civil wars, terrorist insurgencies, drug wars, ethnic violence, and political unrest in 21 additional countries from Afghanistan to Yemen with anywhere from approximately 1,000 to over 10,000 casualties. And that does not address the gun violence, hate crimes, or violent occupations in places like the U.S. and Palestine. Then there’s the lingering pandemic, poverty, all those isms, and environmental crises.
We are an Easter people and Alleluia is our song! Really? How can that be? How can we not despair? How can we understand it, believe it? And the key question: What does it mean to be an Easter people?
Let’s first consider what it might have meant for Jesus. We know it didn’t mean all was rosy for him through his three years of active ministry. It certainly didn’t mean his life on Earth ended in a peaceful and happy death. But it does mean he rose from the dead. God, who took the form of human flesh and suffered excruciating torture and execution, returned victorious, unable to be contained under ground. God in Jesus couldn’t be defeated by the evil deeds of sinful people. And Jesus’s love for his friends, his disciples, his apostles couldn’t be contained or defeated either.
But Jesus never promised that all would suddenly be easy. Instead, he invited us to be an Easter people, if not using those words, by his example. He spent three years teaching his followers—then and today—how to be, and he encouraged us all to live what we learned. Jesus commissioned us to do as he had done in the face of all kinds of difficulties: conflict, rejection, abandonment, loss, sickness or injury, fear and anxiety, fatigue, on and on. Having walked this Earth, he knows, he understands, he experienced it all. And he stands with us today to comfort us in our own grief and to empower us to comfort others.
Being an Easter people, we are called to be witnesses to the Easter story, to tell it as it was two thousand years ago and to reflect it in how we live today. As Easter people we can indeed open ourselves to the hope, the promise, the joy that Jesus’s Resurrection—and his whole life—provided. We can trust that we will not be left in the tomb of our own wounds and our own sorrows, but that we, too, will be raised, even if the scars remain, as did Jesus’s. We can go forth in empathy, revealing our own vulnerability, to do our best to help heal the wounds of others and to help relieve their sorrows. And, through it all, despite it all, Alleluia will, in fact, be our song!
As the world sings triumphant cries to heaven over death that you conquered, help us, God, tomorrow as well, when the dresses are put away and the candy is all eaten and on with life we go, let us not forget.
The celebration of your resurrection over death is a celebration of life that should continue well beyond the sunrise service and the music, rehearsed for days prior; it is beyond the sign of spring, beyond the lily, beyond new lambs grazing in open fields.
Resurrection is a daily celebration over fear, man’s greatest and most powerful enemy. Fear of tomorrow, fear of our yesterdays, fear of what shall become of our young, our old, our unborn. Resurrection is replacing fear with physical action.
This alone, the most touching and profound of your signs that fear is dead and belief in you brings, not just hope but life.
What better living parable could You have brought? All fear death. All. Even in the garden, You took on our fear if for only moments; it was as real as our fears can be real and You knew then that this single enemy must be destroyed.
And, You sacrificed your life, leaving those who had been comfort, and follower; You left them behind, to conquer fear.
I shall cling to this now, and the tomorrows given me.
Peace and thanksgiving lifted unto you.
~Author Unknown, https://www.xavier.edu/jesuitresource/online-resources/prayer-index/easter-prayers
Embrace the beauty and joy of Easter in every way you can, whether with family and friends, your faith community, in nature, and/or in solitude.
Think of Easter people you know or know of. Here are a few possibilities: a caring family member or helpful neighbor; essential workers in your community; peace activists and colleagues; nonviolent war resisters and conscientious objectors; workers and volunteers in homeless shelters, food pantries and soup kitchens, respite centers at the U.S.-Mexico border, and more. Say a prayer for them. Provide material support if you are able. Join them if you feel so called.
Recognize how you are already an Easter person, yourself. You are already a part of the redeemed. You are already loved by God unconditionally. You are already called into joy, into compassion, into service. Join Pax Christi for more inspiration and co-workers on the journey. Don’t forget to help us celebrate 50 years of Pax Christi USA in August in the DC area. See https://paxchristiusa.org/2021/10/14/save-the-date-pax-christi-usa-celebrates-50-years-at-the-national-conference/ for all the details.