This has been my first Easter at St Paul’s. Together we’ve journeyed from the joyous palms of Palm Sunday, through the drama of Holy Thursday and Friday, to the Easter joy of today. A lot has happened in a few days. The mob changed its “hosanna” to a cold “crucify him”. Jesus continued to do what he knew best: giving of himself to others. This time only better!. We’ve seen a friend’s betrayal, another’s denial, and the fearful escape of most of the others. We’ve seen violence, abuse of the legal system, blood and tears. Finally, we witnessed death. Many thought that now it’s all over. “It is finished”, cried the dying one. And that is what the others believed. Now they have managed to silence him, to get rid of him once and for all. For those who had believed him and hoped in him this must have been one of the most difficult days of their lives. For them, too, this looks like the end of a journey. All seems to be lost. As often happens, evil seems to have prevailed.
How wrong they were! In spite of everything, some of his close friends – women – refuse to let go. They go to the tomb early in the morning to anoint the body – for a last look, a final good-bye. But all they find is an empty tomb. After moments of anguish and confusion, they believe. They run to share the news, but are only met with incredulity.
It is not easy to believe in the resurrection, that good is stronger than evil. Perhaps, unfortunately, we are too accustomed to bad things happening around us. Whether it’s in the news or in our family, it seems that bad things constantly happen everywhere. The message of Easter does not deny this. His death was real, and the power of evil was really at work. But what Easter tells us is that the story does not end there. “Why do you seek him amongst the dead? He is not here. He is risen!”. Indeed, there is life after death, there is hope after disillusion.
All these moods are reflected in our liturgies. They have to be. The passion story is told on Palm Sunday, to make sure that we do not forget why He’s entering Jerusalem. In the midst of betrayal and final-moment-sadness of Thursday two great gifts are celebrated: priesthood and eucharist. And the barren church and altar of Friday explode in flowery joy on Saturday night, while light fills the unusually dark church.
Yes, a lot has happened in the space of a few days, even for us as parish community. We’ve journeyed together the journey of Jesus. As pastor I’ve seen a hive of activity which is not witnessed in normal times of the year – people who do their best to help their sisters and brothers live through the different moods of this week. Somehow, hearts are touched during these days, too. In the confessional box people experienced the beauty of light overcoming darkness, life taking the place of death.
So, yes, it is a tiring week. But it is also one that gives great joy. Because, ultimately, this is what our faith is all about. Jesus is not a mere historical figure of the past. He is Risen. He is Alive. And this sure gives us hope in moments of darkness, light when all might seem dark.
Happy Easter to you all. May the light of the Resurrected Christ shine always in your lives.