Young people killed in Myanmar, oppressed in Bangkok, imprisoned in Hong Kong, with no prospects for the economic crisis ...Pope Francis’ long list of social "plagues". Easter is not a vague symbol or psychological consolation. Nor is it just a past event.
Rome (AsiaNews) - Never before has the Easter Proclamation, the resurrection of Christ been so welcome. Friends and family who have died due to or as a consequence of Covid; the young people killed on the streets of Myanmar - almost 600 at the time of writing - by a military dictatorship that goes against history; Beijing's decision to stifle any longing for democracy and freedom in Hong Kong; the Bangkok generals who despise the pressure of Thai youth; Uyghur Muslims victims of widespread repression…
Added to this already sad list we are the situations that Pope Francis recalled in his message on Easter Sunday, last April 4: the sick without access to treatment and vaccines; young people without future prospects; migrants "fleeing from wars and misery".
And then the cauldrons of war or close to conflict in Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Israel, Palestine, Ukraine, Nagorno-Karabakh; terrorist threats from Africa (Sahel, Nigeria, Tigray and Cabo Delgado); the countries (without a name) where religious freedom is trampled, where "many Christians have celebrated Easter with severe restrictions and, sometimes, without even being able to access liturgical celebrations", such as in China.
Never before have we so longed for some hope in the defeat of this pandemic, in the defeat of the economic and social crisis that grows relentlessly, for the return to dialogue and understanding in a society frayed to the extreme where it now seems that the only criterion is to save oneself at the expense of everyone else. Instead, we are confronted with a widespread impotence, which flounders on short-term expedients, devoid of any certainty.
In itself, the proclamation of Christ’s resurrection struggles to take root in the mentality of our world. At best, it is thought of as a symbol of rebirth (like spring flowers from trunks blackened by winter), or some psychological consolation, to which one clings precisely because everything appears destined for nothing. But in this way, Christ’s Resurrection fails to motivate any commitment in history.
We Christians also contribute to the evanescence of this announcement. For too many faithful the resurrection of Jesus is seen as the event in a distant past; Jesus is simply a teacher who taught "so many right things", a respectable moral example, but He is powerless to move today.
At the Easter Vigil, Pope Francis outlined this attitude with perfection: "Many people – including us – experience such a “faith of memories”, as if Jesus were someone from the past, an old friend from their youth who is now far distant, an event that took place long ago, when they attended catechism as a child. A faith made up of habits, things from the past, lovely childhood memories, but no longer a faith that moves me, or challenges me."
If Jesus is risen, then it means that he has power over every instant of history and is alive today too, in our life: we meet him in the sacraments, in prayer, in fraternal relationships. But if He is alive, it means that all the love with which He loved us from the cross was not in vain, a flicker of generous feeling before the end: it means that His love is greater and stronger than all those who wanted to silence it, annihilate it.
In this way, every situation, even the most desperate, can evolve through an everyday hope and commitment which contains a horizon of guarantee for the future. This also means that God is not a placebo for the pain of life, but the absolute guarantee of truth and good.
In a certain sense, the desperate situation of our world puts us with our backs to the wall: either the world is all irrational nonsense, which slips towards nothingness, or it is a creature of God and for this reason it has the hope of growing, improving, in God’s covenant with man.
On Easter Monday ("of the Angel") Pope Francis said: " All of the plans and defences of Jesus’s enemies and persecutors were in vain…The image of the angel sitting on the stone before the tomb is the concrete manifestation, the visible manifestation of God’s victory over evil, the manifestation of Christ’s victory over the prince of this world, the manifestation of the victory of light over darkness. Jesus’s tomb was not opened by a physical phenomenon, but by the Lord’s intervention… These details are symbols that confirm the intervention of God himself, bearer of a new era, of the last times of history because Jesus’s resurrection initiated the last times of history which can endure thousands of years, but they are the last times."