04/17/2014, 00.00
ITALY - ASIA
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Easter, victory over death and impotence

by Bernardo Cervellera

Rome (AsiaNews) - Easter, with its message of victory over evil and hell, has arrived. Yet, if we look at the situation of the world, especially in Asia, our hearts fill with gloom. Almost helpless, we are witnesses to the victory of might is right.

The way Putin's Russia seized Crimea from Ukraine is one example. Ostensibly moved by a desire to protect Russian speakers from real or imaginary threats, Russia has taken back a multi-ethnic peninsula through a less than clean referendum but especially thanks to special forces sent across the border. In so doing, it has rekindled in Crimea's Ukrainian and Tatar minorities the memory of dictatorship and forced deportation.

Russian analysts have already dismissed the sanctions and speeches by the leaders if the European Union and the United States against Russia as a mere nuisance. Yet, for many Asia observers, Russia's moves raise the spectre that other countries could feel emboldened enough to seize disputed territories in conflict areas, like India and Pakistan in Kashmir; China, Vietnam and four other states in the Spratly Islands; Russia and Japan in the Kurile Islands; Japan and China in the Senkaku/Diaoyu, etc.

Events in Crimea are likely to be a catalyst for border wars under the guise of patriotism, and hidden economic, strategic, and geopolitical considerations.

In war-torn Syria, the suffering of Christians and Muslims seems endless, despite the faint hope raised by peace talks in Geneva, quickly crushed by the impotence of the international community and the rumbling sound of weapons.

Through high unemployment, poverty, the wealth and abuse of the richest, impotence and might is right also appear to dominate daily life in the world. Indeed, on Calvary the struggle between impotence and might is right saw good suffer an apparent defeat.

This "duel", as the liturgy calls it, continued in the depths of the grave, when the greatest form of impotence, death, appear to back those who sought to erase the Love that came to dwell among men.

Yet love won, not love as a feeling or an idea, but as the Person source of love, capable of crossing all barriers of power laid down by the mightiest, transforming places of death in opportunities of life, springing from the barren rocks of despair and impotence.

The history of the Church is not about the spreading of an idea or an ideology that wins through power or armies. It is the history of encountering and passing on (a tradition) of a life that was changed by faith to another that is waiting. "It is not by proselytizing that the Church grows but 'by attraction'," Pope Francis wrote in Evangelii Gaudium (N. 15).

All this makes every Christian a central character in the mission, to which too often are delegated only "specialists" and members of the "clergy". Instead, everyone should be encouraged to show the signs of change that the resurrection of Jesus brought us.

From this point of view, it is important to preserve the martyrs' stories, who are not the representatives of some run-of-the-mill humanitarian organisations, but are those who explicitly gave their life for Jesus Christ and this unto death. Their end was no misfortune, but a seed that bore fruit. For example, the death of Mgr Joseph Fan Zhongliang, bishop of Shanghai, who for nearly 30 years was in prison or forced labour camps in Qinghai, breached the state's control over the Church in China. More importantly, it saw thousands of believers in the underground and official Churches come together for the Eucharist, after years of mutual "excommunication".

On Easter morning, the Alleluia shall not resonate immediately. The seed shall need time to rot and spring again. Nonetheless, faith in Jesus Christ, who overcame death and gave sparkle to life, is the only way in a world that finds itself increasingly divided and impotent, with corrupt and rotten ideas.

Happy Easter.

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