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THE GOSPEL OF HOPE
We sing joyfully “Alleluia” at Easter because it is a feast of victory. Easter marks the triumph of life over death, of love over hatred, of light over darkness. Resurrection is the basis and wellspring of Christian life and mission. As St. Paul clearly states “if Christ has not been raised then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain” (1 Cor 15:14). No other event has impacted the world so much as the resurrection of Jesus.
Even during the bitterest time of His suffering and His painful and shameful death, the holy women were not afraid but they were faithful in following Him upto the crucifixion and death. Their fidelity to Jesus was rewarded. In fact, they were the first to receive the good news of His Resurrection. They also became messengers of the Good News of the Resurrection to the apostles. “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen … and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest” (Lk 24: 5b, 9). The first message of Resurrection is God’s fidelity in imparting blessing to those who are faithful to him, in spite of sufferings and trials of life.
Secondly, Easter is the feast of Peace and Reconciliation; it is a feast of acceptance and forgiveness. Jesus was triumphantly brought into Jerusalem as Messiah, Son of David. A movement so full of exuberance and victory was crushed by the crucifixion and death of the Messiah. The very disciples whom Jesus had trained for three years, one has turned to be a betrayer and another has denied. The rest of them ran for their life being afraid that the chief priests and elders would also put them to a shameful death. They cuddled themselves in a locked room because of their anxieties and worries about their life. But Risen Jesus appeared in their midst and uttered the first sentence which was a soothing palm to their hearts. “Peace be with you”(Jn 20:19). In other words “I accept you as you are”, with your strength and weakness. I don’t look back on your past and I look at you and look to your future. He further invites his disciples to be his witness of peace and reconciliation to others, to be messengers of forgiveness (Jn 20:21-23).
St. Paul writes to the Corinthians that the basic ministry of the apostles of Jesus is the ministry of reconciliation as He himself came into the world for the ministry of reconciliation. So is anyone in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us” (2 Cor 5:17-19).
The third message of Resurrection is that true love never dies. Jesus, who is the embodiment of God’s love who revealed nothing but the love of the Father could not be held by the power of death. The Risen Christ is always present amidst us especially in the breaking of the Word and in the breaking of the Bread (cf Acts 2:43-46). This is clear from the healing of the crippled man at Solomon’s portico by St. Peter (Acts 3:1-10). The promise of Jesus to the Apostles, “And remember I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Mt28:20) is true even today.
In the year 1975, Archbishop Francis Xavier Nguyan Van Thuvan was imprisoned by the communists, which was at that time controlling the government of Viatnam. He was put in a solitary confinement together with nine others for thirteen years. He began to question the meaning of his life and vocation! Why God called him to be a pastor of his people and gave him such situation that he had to spend his life in solitary confinement. He was in despair and sorrow. One bright morning the power of Resurrection dawned on him. “Van Thuvan, Van Thuvan, so far you were doing God’s work but now you are doing God’s will”. This inner light brightened his life. He began to be a messenger of hope to other prisoners. Everyone was released after thirteen years.
C. S. Lewis says, “I see sun rising not because it rises in the east but because I see things of the world brightens and their existence having meaning for me”. Similarly we experience the Resurrection of Jesus today by the way in which this event of Resurrection has been transforming the lives of people, the church and the society.
We are invited today to encounter the Risen Lord in our struggles and pains of life and be messengers of hope and courage to others. I wish you all a very happy Easter!