Easter in the midst of our Lent
Yes, this Easter is really different
One more Easter Sunday is gone. What is the speciality of Easter? One of the immediate responses will be that the Christianity owes its origin to the resurrection of Jesus. Others would add that it is the most important feast of Christians. All are true and good arguments. But what more? If I ask the people around me (without the distinction of religion), “Which is the greatest feast of Christians?”, the immediate answer is Christmas. There are many Christians who attends Church once or twice a year (no value-judgements on them), and what is the occasion for visiting the Church? My experience says that the most probable response is “Good Friday”, and the second may be again Christmas. Though Easter is the foundational feast of Christians, many of our practices always don’t say so. Is there an issue? Or a better question could be, why is it so?
1. Christmas and Good Friday speaks of foundational events in the human-life, whether I am a believer or not. It is something to which everyone can easily relate, though death is also something many of us would like to overcome.
2. What are the two important liturgical seasons in the Church? Advent, which is the preparation of Christmas and Lent, which culminates in the Easter. The official liturgy has another important season called the Easter Season, which extends for 50 days after Easter. But it is never so emphasised or it has never become an interesting season.
3. Another way of “trivialising” Easter can be… Birth of God as a human-being is really special (they are a few parallels in other religions of the world too). The death of God is further rare (there may be much fewer parallels). But in a way, resurrection has to be the normal, because after all we are speaking of God.
After a quick analysis, I would like to think of resurrection a little deeper…
1. It is good to see many of the resurrection narratives in the Gospel. The event called resurrection was extra-ordinary. But no gospel describes the proper event. The risen Jesus is meeting with ordinary people (many who were his close friends and disciples before his death) in their ordinary circumstances or in their painful realities. This encounter gives new dimensions to their life; it gives them joy; it gives new mission for many of them; but much of the external realities remain the same.
2. I was wondering, can we discover some symbols or images to describe an encounter with the risen Lord. Jesus says Kingdom of God is like the yeast. Even the encounter with Risen Lord acts many a times like the yeast, transforming the flour into bread. Materially, flour and bread have the same substance. But that yeast did something which is at the same time ordinary and extra-ordinary. This may be the same about an encounter with the risen Lord. It is at the same time ordinary and extra-ordinary.
3. One of the beautiful names of Jesus is Immanuel, which means God is with us. I think resurrection takes this dimension of accompanying God to another level. This Risen Lord is in the world, in all its ordinariness, and transform it in a special way. We attach grandeur, power etc with divinity, but the risen Lord transforms in a gentle and profound way and this makes the resurrection complicated for us.
This Easter is much more relevant for humanity. Many people experience “the period of lent’ for an extremely long duration, because of COVID-19. There is no point of denying that reality. For many of them, life has become much more difficult with no work, no money, no recreation and all sorts of restrictions. (For many humans, this is also a short experience of the reality of people, all through out their life, in the war torn countries). One invitation for all of us, is to experience the Risen Lord in the midst of all the struggles (I don’t believe on a magical/miraculous change of situations). The encounter with Risen Lord in the midst of “this lent” of our lives can lead to a profound Easter experience — an experience of sense, meaning, joy, hope and love in the midst of all the pain and suffering.