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Easter Gives Meaning to Our Life’s Struggles

There is a story of a Christian who was martyred and his tomb sealed with a marble plaque that read, “sealed in these stones lie the remains of a man who believed in the resurrection.” Many who saw it wondered if it was really worth sacrificing one’s life for a cause? As divine providence would have it, a seed trapped into that grave grew into a tiny sapling, and gradually managed to wriggle through the crevice between the stones. A few years later, when the tree was fully grown, its roots had broken the marble plaque and displaced the stones! Indeed, an ironical expression of the victory of life over death!

At various points of time in our life, we are left wondering “is Life worth all the trouble?” Take for example these situations:

- Parents’ work hard to bring up their children and give them the best they can; and when the children grow up to be rebellious teenagers or insensitive adults, parents wonder, “is it worth all the sacrifices I’ve made for my children when they are so ungrateful? Is it worth it?”

- Parish Councilors and SCC animators wonder whether it’s worth wasting their time and energy on people who are not cooperating with them, but instead are just sitting back and criticizing and finding fault…? Is it worth trying to build community?

- Students who study hard for exams and then find that the question papers were leaked and so the exams are rescheduled; they wonder if it’s worth studying all over again? Or those who have passed their exams and are not able to find employment wonder whether it was worth all the effort of studying, and going to college and classes? Is it worth it?

People who stand by their values are laughed at and ridiculed; there are so many who can’t stand the pressure of being different from others and quit; they compromise, they do what others do because they are convinced it’s not worth standing alone… it’s not worth it!

The disciples of Jesus were faced with this question: “Is it worth it?” They had followed him because they were gripped by the person and message of Jesus – he was loving and compassionate; he spoke of building the kingdom of God on earth where there would be love, joy, peace and equality for all. So, the disciples had left their possessions and professions, and followed him. Just about three years later everything seemed to be over; their hopes shattered with the crucifixion of Jesus. They had to go into hiding for fear of persecution. They wondered, “was it worth giving up everything? Shouldn’t they have continued their normal life as everyone else did?”

Then comes the Resurrection! We are used to thinking of the resurrection as a happy ending to the sad story of the crucifixion of Jesus. But in the Bible, there is no fairy tale ending – “and they lived happily ever after”. The resurrection is not a happy ending to a sad story, but in fact a continuation of the sad story with a strange sense of joy and accomplishment. Let me explain: the sad story was that Jesus who stood for goodness was killed; and the sad story continued – Stephen was stoned, James was beheaded, Peter and Paul, and so many early Christians martyred… and 2000 years later the sad story continues – those who stand for justice are killed, those who stand for their values are ridiculed, those who serve selflessly are rewarded with ungratefulness and criticism… The Sad Story continues… But with a difference! Before the Resurrection the disciples were wondering whether it’s worth it? The Resurrection was a tremendous spiritual experience that changed their entire understanding of the sad story of Jesus. Now they were willing to continue the sad story – “I’ll live as Jesus lived, and die as Jesus died”. Every pain, every persecution brought them a certain sense of joy and accomplishment: “I’m doing this for Jesus, and even without a fairy tale ending, I know it’s still worth it!”

The message of Good Friday is that we human beings can kill God! There are so many ways in which we kill the presence of God in our family, in our neighborhood, and in society. At the heart of Easter message is the declaration of the disciples: “You can kill me but you can’t kill the godliness in me; you can ridicule me, but you can’t deter me from the path of godly values”.

- Parents who genuinely wish their children ‘Happy Easter’ are saying “no matter what you’ll turn out to be, it’s worth loving you”;

- Parish councilors who say ‘Happy Easter’ are proclaiming their commitment that irrespective of cooperation or criticism, I will build community;

- Students who say ‘Happy Easter’ are affirming that neither disappointments nor peer pressure can kill the godly values instilled in them.

That’s why even though the Resurrection of Jesus is about our mission to continue the sad story; it’s with a deep sense of meaning and purpose, we call out “Happy Easter!!”

- Fr. Mario Mendes

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