PRACTICAL MEANING OF EASTER

Easter Sunday of the Lord’s Resurrection     

            I received an email from a priest-friend who took an unofficial leave from the priestly ministry after years of gradually losing zeal and appreciation for his vocation – in fact, he almost left the priestly life. He started losing the desire to continue serving as a priest when tragedies – one after another – struck him. His mother died after a long, painful battle with cancer. Less than a year after that, his father and sister were killed in a car accident. Then he himself got seriously ill. Long series of unfortunate events really shook his faith in God. And naturally it affected his priestly ministry. He left for the States to work not as a priest, but as an ordinary employee.

            Actually, I was not anymore expecting that he would still return. But I was so happy to know that he is coming back to the ministry. He is back, according to him, with stronger faith in God, a deeper appreciation of the beauty of life, a renewed zeal for the priestly ministry. This priest, this friend of mine, died and rose again. He picked up the broken pieces of his life, and fitted them back together again. And because of this he understood the practical meaning of Easter – for he himself experienced a “personal resurrection.”

            How about us? How do we understand the practical meaning of Easter? Let me say what could be the practical meaning of Easter in our lives (I have been saying this for the past 25 Easters): Each time we love again after having our love rejected, we share in the power of the resurrection. Each time we trust again after having our trust betrayed, we share in the power of the resurrection. Each time we hope again after having our hope shattered, we share in the power of the resurrection. Each time we pick up the pieces, wipe our tears, face the sun, and start again, we share in the power of the resurrection. Wherever and whenever there is this power that cannot be frustrated, we have the resurrection event happening again.

            Today’s gospel reading tells us that Mary of Magdala came to the tomb where Jesus was buried and she saw the stone removed from the tomb. This small detail says a lot about Easter. Easter is all about removing the stone from the tomb. It is about rolling back the stone of the tomb and opening the door of our life to Christ.

            If we are to experience “resurrection life” daily, we must remove “the stone” that keeps us inside the tomb. It may be the stone of selfishness and self-centeredness. It may be the stone of our selfish ambition, self-seeking ways, hidden agenda, or vested interest. You have made your life merely as your personal project – without even considering God’s design. It may be the stone of too much regret and guilt about the past, and too much worry and anxiety about the future. You are stuck in the past and fixated in the future, so much so that you miss living in the present. It may be the stone of pessimism in your thinking or defeatism in your mentality and attitude. You fail to see and appreciate the blessings you receive and the good things that happen in your life precisely because you are focused on the negatives. It may be the stone of false security that is rooted in the accumulation of material things. You live in the constant fear of not having enough, therefore, you work to death to have more of more. It may be the stone of wounded memory due to an experience of rejection or betrayal. You are afraid to trust and love again; you do not dare to enter into a new relationship because you are afraid to get hurt again just like in the past.

            Let us get rid of the things that prevent us from experiencing the unleashing of the power of Christ’s Resurrection. Let us allow Christ’s Resurrection to empower us to overcome selfishness and learn his selfless ways, to move on from the painful past and have a fresh start, to go beyond the worries and anxieties of our daily life and learn to trust more in the divine providence. Let us allow Christ’s Resurrection to work in our lives, that we may be filled with new life: a new way of seeing things, a new way of relating with others, and a new way of performing our tasks.

            Si Kristo ay muling nabuhay! Nais niya na tayo rin ay muling mabuhay. Hayaan natin ang Panginoong muling nabuhay na buhayin din tayo. Let us today imagine a God, like the God in Zephaniah 3:17, who rejoices over us with glad songs and dances with shouts of joy for us. Let us joyfully respond to this by singing: Join in the dance of the earth’s jubilation This is the feast of the love of God. Shout from the heights to the ends of creation, “Jesus the Savior is risen from the grave!”

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