by Joseph Nangle, OFM
Pax Christi USA Ambassador of Peace
Every Easter Week we are called to consider issues of cosmic proportions. They go to the very heart and touch every level of human existence: the choice between good and evil. They are described in one of the first books of the Bible: “I have set before you life and prosperity, death and doom… a blessing and a curse. Choose…” (Deuteronomy 30: 15, 19)
These alternatives have everything to do with human sinfulness contrasted with the Easter event, Jesus’s triumph over the forces of darkness.
In our time of human history significant choices for death and doom have prevailed. There is a fearsome metaphor for them all: nuclear weapons. While not having been utilized directly since 1945, they have been used on many occasions in these intervening years as threats. Today we are perilously close to seeing such a diabolical threat being actually carried out by a cornered Russian leader. The well-named “doomsday clock” that marks the closeness of humanity to such an “unthinkable” now reads 90 seconds from midnight.
Pope Francis has spoken vigorously about these terrifying possibilities. He has gone so far as to declare even the possession of nuclear weapons morally indefensible. His reasoning is chilling: “[A]n accident or the madness of some government leader, one person’s madness can destroy humanity.”
This cosmic contrast, doom and blessing, brings serious considerations and challenges to mind at Easter. Despite all the possibilities for nuclear destruction of our Common Home and the human race, Jesus’s resurrection impels us to cling to hope, to the conviction that thanks to his return from the dead, “the darkness will never overcome the light,” the Reign of God will prevail.
The phrase “Resurrection Theology” has come into our awareness in recent times. One could add “Resurrection Spirituality” as well. It begins with the stark fact that everything depends on Christ’s resurrection. If he did not rise then humanity is condemned to ultimate futility, to nothingness. St. Paul puts it this way: “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is vain… If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are the most pitiable people of all.” (I Corinthians 15:17, 19)
But as our theology and spirituality indicate, during these “Fifty Sundays” through to the Feast of Pentecost we stand on the shoulders of generations of Jesus’s followers whose sensus fideliium has inspired them to proclaim: “He Has Risen!”
We put aside then all of our doubts, our fragile faith, our incomprehension and take to heart the words of the Risen Christ when in speaking to the doubting Thomas he referred to us: “Blessed are they who have not seen and have believed.”
We might even choose to follow Pope Francis’ lead at last year’s Easter Mass in St. Peter’s Square, when he set aside his homily and allowed a “hushed silence” fill the packed area for several minutes of prayerful reflection. (He also acknowledged there that the world in witnessing another “Easter of War.”)
At this moment in human history Francis and we celebrate the Son as a human being whom God sent out of love and who died, was buried and lives.
Despite the darkness that encroaches on our world, we hold on to Zacharias’s prophecy in his prayer of praise: “In the tender compassion of our God the dawn from on high will break upon us to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and guide our feet into the way of peace.”
Tonight, at the Paschal Vigil we sing:
Exult… hosts of heaven; be glad earth, rejoice Mother Church, let the trumpet of salvation aloud our mighty Sovereign’s triumph.
This is the night when Christ broke the prison bars of death and rose victorious from the underworld. O truly blessed night when things of heaven are wed to those of earth, and divine to the human.
Joe Nangle OFM is a Pax Christi USA Ambassador of Peace. As a member of the Assisi Community in Washington, D.C., he is dedicated to simple living and social change. Joe also serves as the Pastoral Associate for the Latino community at Our Lady Queen of Peace, Arlington, Virginia.
2 thoughts on “Easter: Jesus’s resurrection impels us to cling to hope”
Thank you for this essay. It’s simple to choose life, but we must choose it now, not later, when consenting to evil now could make the good choice too late. Conceding one country to an aggressively expanding empire (diplomacy having failed) might be the easy choice for a country that wants to avoid a war to defend that other country. See World War II. This is what NATO is doing for Ukraine. From here on out, peace is the goal, but not at the cost of Ukraine’s sovereignty, in my opinion. The horrible waste of even a “righteous” defensive war seems to be preferred by many nations to allowing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to succeed.
Sadly, Mr Marsh’s comment juxtaposes, if not perverts,Fr.Nangle’s above thought.
Perhaps Mr Marsh has been caught up in the obscene jingoism of the Uniparty military industrial complex. Instead of chanting an Easter song of peace, I imagine him bellowing “USA! USA!
David-Ross Gerling, PhD