The courage to wish for a happy Easter
by Bernardo Cervellera
Syria and the Christians; Afghanistan and women, Orissa and the Maoists, China and the power struggles, Vietnam against the Vatican: the horizon of Asia and the world looks very bleak. Easter is not the chocolate egg or exaltation of the suffering of the vanquished: it is God who allowed himself be crucified to destroy evil and to rise again victorious. On the night of Easter many in Asia will become Christians because they understood that Jesus Christ is the strongest.

Rome (AsiaNews) - It takes a lot courage to wish for a happy Easter. Ordinary people say that "with what is happening in the world, there is little to be happy about". Even the articles we publish here at  AsiaNews every day on the web, and every month in the newspaper, reveal little cause for happiness. The Middle East, Syria above all, is in the throes of an upheaval that threatens to slide into an endless struggle, the most likely outcome of which is its division into many sectarian cantons that will wage a perpetual war, or crush the minorities - including Christians - into a second-class citizenship. Throughout the region - and the whole world - hangs the threat of an Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear facilities

Central Asia and the South is no better. Afghanistan in particular, seems to be returning to Taliban-style regards its treatment of women, while U.S. troops prepare to leave the country after more than 10 years of (almost) useless military presence. Maoist groups in India - who kidnapped the two Italians Claudio Colangelo and Paolo Bosusco - continue to deceive the tribal (Adivasi) that violence is the best way to find respect in the country. They, learning from the Mujaheddin and members of al Qaeda, tend to internationalize their struggle, while the Government of Orissa (and some other Indian states) are deaf to even the smallest of requests and prefer to "local suffocation" to internationalization.

Even the Far East is very tense. Vietnam, after having taken steps towards dialogue with the Vatican, has blocked visas of the delegation that was to visit the places where Card. Van Thuan, lived to gather material for his beatification. China, instead of giving way to the voice of its people, prefers an iron fist of control over everything, while there is an ongoing internal struggle for power in the Politburo that is freezing any chance of change at least until the Party Congress in October. Even Beijing is preparing for the future by increasing the budget of the army, police, launching aircraft carriers and threatening its immediate neighbors.

Even Japan, which had given up war, is strengthening its army and control of territorial waters to stop possible Chinese incursions.

Bad blood still runs between the two Koreas, after the death of Kim Jong-il, and proclamations pitting one against the other are a common day occurrence.

One gets the impression that all political powers in the world are strengthening and positioning themselves to defend their survival. Their weakness is tried even more by the global economic crisis, which has proven just how much international financial powers can undermine governments, change them, shake them and even end them.

If Easter were reduced to being merely the festival of the cherry blossom, the dove, bells and chocolate eggs, then the pessimists would be right not to celebrate it at a time when the world seems hurtling towards an abyss. It would be no better if this celebration was merely a generic consolation for all of history's losers, a monument to heroism and sacrifice.

However, Easter is something more: it is the most unexpected of events, a God who in his flesh, decided to experience the entire abyss of man's evil and bearing it upon his soldiers and in his flesh, destroys it with His death . His resurrection, His victory over death and evil is the unexpected path of hope, which becomes safe.

The "Do not be afraid" that Blessed John Paul II made a popular slogan, echoed the first time on Easter morning, when the women went to the tomb. They thought they would be carrying out a pious rites to seal the end of a man's life but found themselves before the most spectacular and revolutionary announcement: the Man-God is stronger than death, his love renews the heart of man and the universe, thanks to him even that hell, visited by His love, is forced to break the chains of despair and nothingness.

The Christian communities in Asia, tiny minorities, heavily persecuted, live by this force, this relationship with the Lord who died and rose again. It is impressive to think that on Easter night tens of thousands of newly baptized will enter the Churches of Asia. They realize that Jesus Christ is stronger than all political power, all oppression, all material comfort, all poverty. This is why they have become Christians. Happy Easter.

 

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