From time to time we learn of heroic people who, moved with genuine love, try to save someone who is drowning or trapped inside a burning building. In some cases their altruism ends in an added tragedy: both victim and rescuer perish. If the love of Jesus had ended at sunset on Good Friday when his lifeless and disfigured corpse was taken down from the cross, washed and placed in a new tomb, he would be a hero who lost his life trying to save us all. However, both we and he would have been lost forever.
The resurrection is that unique, historical fact that proves that both Jesus and all of us possess the guarantee of Life without end. The resurrection changes everything for Jesus as Son of Man and for us, his brothers and sisters. No other feast, not even Christmas, can come close to Easter for importance and significance. Everything, absolutely everything about our life on earth and our hope for eternal Life in heaven, is grounded on the resurrection. For those who do not believe in the resurrection or have some doubts about it, life on earth is all that they can hold on to; and that life can end just like that anytime, anywhere. They are the most pitiful of people.
What would be the reason for leading decent lives if Christ had not risen from the dead? Why make any sacrifices? Why obey any law? Why being dependable, accountable, responsible, generous, helpful, decent?
Fear of punishment could only keep us out of trouble for so long; then, we would find a way around the law, any law, to do as we please. Do as we please yet with the assailing thought that it can all come to an abrupt end as it is the case with any animal squashed by passing cars on the highway. Nor, in our needs, could we expect much help from other people because they too would be devoid of hope.
Apart from our Blessed Mother, Mary Magdalene, Simon Peter and John, the beloved disciple, were those who loved Jesus the most. We have to place ourselves way behind them on the list of lovers of Jesus. Prior to the Resurrection, there were darkness, emptiness, dashed hopes, many hurts barely mitigated by beautiful memories of days spent in the presence of their divine Master. Since they had yet to grasp the tremendous impact of, and reshape their life around the resurrection, they went to the tomb without hope, without future, solely wondering how they could cope without Christ in their—suddenly miserable, empty—lives.
Let me point out to you, at this time, something that you must have surely overlooked: even on every Sunday of Lent, with purple vestments worn by the presiding priest, the Church does the Eucharist, i.e. gives thanks to God for the death and resurrection of Christ.
The Church tells us to sing: “We proclaim your death, O Lord and profess your Resurrection until you come again.” Even in our darkest moments we cannot forget that Christ is risen; that his way, which is the way of loving each other even to the point of forfeiting our life for someone else, is the valid one, the one that will be rewarded by Christ when he comes again in his glory.
So, Easter presents us with a gigantic challenge. Here it is: For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:3)
We have to live each day still left for us to live on this earth with the reshaping thought that we are one with Christ. That means that, since we are inseparable from Jesus Christ, we too “have died” with him. Sin, any sin, even those sins that we commit routinely without giving them much thought, should be left behind us, nailed as they indeed were to the cross of Christ. Having died to sin, along with Christ, our future must be truly “sin-free,” as much as it is humanly possible by one aided by God’s grace.
The second part of this gigantic challenge is even harder to accomplish: we have to carry out our duties according to our state in life aware that our Life, our real life that will never end, is still hidden in Christ. This means that we have to handle darkness, hurts, setbacks, tears as well as success, bright moments, accolades, joys with hope rather than with tangible certainty.
Now, hope doesn’t offer us any break as we deal and interact with people. Hope doesn’t pay our bills, doesn’t give us a raise, doesn’t afford us graduations or diplomas. Hope simply sustains us as we do all those necessary things in life with that extra resolve and perseverance which would get us over the many hurdles that we encounter daily.
In this context of the resurrection, my wish of a Happy Easter intends to be an invitation in earnest to live through anything that can envelope us in darkness and emptiness with the certainty that nothing in this world can ever separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
This Happy Easter wish means that no matter what we have to face each day, we are sustained by the certainty that the glory of Christ will be ours as well, for sure.
REVEREND DINO VANIN, PIME was born in Cendon di Silea, Province of Treviso, Italy in 1946. He entered the PIME Seminary at Treviso at the tender age of eleven. He came to the U.S. in 1968, studying Theology at Darlington Major Seminary in New Jersey. He has an MA in Secondary School Administration from Seton Hall University. Ordained in 1972, he served as an administrator, teacher, rector and principal at the PIME High School Seminary in Newark, Ohio before being sent to the missions of Thailand, where he served for six years. He is currently the Treasurer of the U.S. Region of PIME in Detroit. On December 16, 2018 he was installed as Pastor of San Francesco Catholic Church in Clinton Township, MI. Every week he takes some time off from his parish ministry to do some administrative work at PIME headquarters in Detroit. Due to his increased workload at the parish while continuing as Treasurer of the U. S. Region of PIME and as counselor and spiritual director, he spends any time left doing a little woodworking.