BY REV ED MONTANO
Easter is THE most important celebration of the year in the Christian Calendar, more important than Christmas and every other feast and holy day put together. The reason is very simple. Easter is the time when we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. The singular event that transformed much of human history and gave birth to the Christian faith. Without resurrection there could not be Christianity. This is the most profound mystery of our faith as Christians: The Lord is risen! Hallelujah!!!
The resurrection of Jesus so dominates Christian consciousness today that it is almost unthinkable that it happened almost unnoticed. All four canonical gospels tell the same basic story, Mary Magdalene and some other women go to the tomb very early on the first day of the week, Sunday, to anoint the body of Jesus per Jewish burial ritual. While all four gospels have nuances in their narrative, they all agree that it was the women who first witnessed the risen Christ, and then go and tell the other disciples who are still terrified and in hiding. It was a most unlikely and unexpected way that the resurrection of Jesus was first proclaimed. It was by the most unlikely and unexpected sources (women) that the message of Easter began to spread. Yet, as we know, the rest is history!
In theological circles, the resurrection of Jesus is described as the event that destroyed the powers of sin and death, which inaugurated a new way of understanding the totality of the human journey in relationship with a God of love and life. In other words, the Easter event brought about a renewed sense of hope in a different reality of life; a life that transcends the physical and temporal while remaining in our current reality. What does all this mean? It means that we can dare to hope for, long for, and work for a love and a freedom beyond our wildest dreams, creating a better and just society here and now, with our sights on the Kingdom or Reign of God that Jesus spoke about, with the trust and thrust that God is with us because Jesus continues to be with us in one way or another…or many!
Now, it is difficult to contemplate the mystery of the resurrection in these difficult times of COVID-19, when our lives are in a tumultuous rollercoaster of uncertainty, when we seem to be in and out of lockdowns and restrictions, when we – more often than not – can find ourselves at a loss for words or concrete actions to effectively ministers to others. Could it be that the powers of sin and death are stronger these days?
Now more than ever we must focus on the hope that we have in the risen Christ. Now more than ever we must be vigilant that in the midst of pain, tragedy and sorrow, we are the Easter story tellers with our example, with our compliance with public health guidelines, in doing our part in whatever capacity we can, neither being a hindrance nor stumbling blocks by not educating ourselves about what we all must do to prevent further infection. This may sound a little like a broken record. Why do we bring this up over and over again? What does this have to do with the Easter message and the resurrection of Jesus at all? There are always other pressing needs and issues that require our attention. However, our current pressing reality is one that requires all our efforts, so that the hope of the resurrection can be a reality for so many in the world.
Much like if there was no resurrection of Jesus there could be no Christianity, if we do not continue to do our part to fight this pandemic, there will be little hope for so many, including ourselves. With the concrete hope in the vaccines that are being administered, we must continue proclaiming working for the Reign of God where everyone has access to vaccination, where everyone can feel safe and protected. With much prayer, care and still more patience, we will overcome this pandemic. There is good reason to be hopeful, even if our efforts don’t seem enough. Let us remember that it was the most unlikely characters in the Easter story that were the first to announce the resurrection. These women did not let other people’s disbelief and ridicule stop their mission of hope and love. We must be like them and not let fatigue and carelessness get in our way to proclaim the resurrection with conviction in our words and actions. The Lord is risen, indeed! Hallelujah!!!
 In the culture at that time, women were not considered worthy of human dignity, were not usually heard or believed, and were considered significantly inferior to men. No self-respecting man would waste his time listening to a woman’s story, let alone believe any outlandish tale she would tell.