Does the ongoing challenging situation make a difference in the way we say “Happy Easter!” this year? Do we heave a sigh of relief, “Lent is over, Alleluia!” or exclaim with a heartfelt joy, “He is Risen, Alleluia!”? Our pandemic experience was aptly described by Pope Francis: “This disease has not only deprived us of human closeness, but also of the possibility of receiving in person the consolation that flows from the sacraments, particularly the Eucharist and Reconciliation. In many countries, it has not been possible to approach them, but the Lord has not left us alone! United in our prayer, we are convinced that he has laid his hand upon us (cf. Ps 138:5), firmly reassuring us: Do not be afraid, “I have risen and I am with you still!”
We have been very fortunate to offer all the Church services both in person and online – thanks to our St. Matthias YouTube channel. Easter brings so many promises of God to us: life is stronger than death, love can overcome hate, goodness ultimately triumphs over evil, and eternal glory with God in Heaven is our destiny. Yes, we celebrate Easter with heartfelt joy.
The historical evidence for Jesus of Nazareth is both long-established and widespread. Besides the New Testament references, Jesus is mentioned by Jewish and Roman historians, as well as by dozens of Christian writings. These establish the historicity of Jesus beyond doubt. Compare that with, for example, King Arthur, who supposedly lived around AD 500. The major historical source for events of that time does not even mention Arthur, and he is first mentioned some 300 or 400 years after he is supposed to have lived. The evidence for Jesus is not limited to later folklore, as are accounts of Arthur. Hence any challenge to the reality of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus is not entertained in educated circles.
But the resurrection of Jesus from the dead is not simply a fact of history to be retold at Easter. The retelling we had these past days of Holy Week is meant to remind us that this happy mystery is to be lived everyday. How?
Like the first disciples, we, too, know that Jesus is not found among the dead but among the living. He lives among us whenever we gather in His name: not only for the Eucharist or for Lenten small groups, but also when we come together for every association or ministry meeting and whenever we organize any parish event – both of which are in abundance here at St. Matthias. He is present in our homes when we gather as a family not only for meals or prayer, but also for any family event. When we reach out to the less fortunate with help, we lift up the hand of Jesus. In these and many other ways, we give witness to the mystery of Jesus living among us. Indeed, we become the Body of Christ for the world.
Let us experience more of that Easter Joy!
Easter Blessings to you and to your dear ones!
Your brother in Christ,
Fr. Abraham Orapankal