JESUS died, was buried and rose again to new life. It is a historical fact that the risen Jesus radiated His new life in all its power and glory wherever He went and to whomever He appeared.
The disciples to whom He appeared were suddenly transformed from a band of despairing men into a brigade of daring missionaries.
Everywhere they preached the Good News of Christ’s resurrection! The power of Easter began to work in people’s lives: despair gave way to hope; darkness gave way to light; hatred gave way to love, and sorrow gave way to joy. Christianity was born!
Over 2,000 years later, living in an age dominated by science, sophisticated technology and secular thinking, we may ask ourselves whether Jesus’ resurrection from the dead is still relevant.
The answer is undoubtedly yes. The relevance is that by raising Jesus from the dead, God has confirmed that the way of Jesus is the way of life for all people in all times.
What was the way of Jesus? Against the social trends of His time, He sided with the poor, cured the sick, helped the needy, praised and blessed those who were not regarded worthy in society. He placed human beings in the centre of the stage. Identifying Himself with the poor and the lowly, He provoked the powerful.
When the wise men of His time put Him to death because they rejected His way, God raised Jesus to a new life, demonstrating that the way of Jesus is the true way of life.
Easter offers the world an opportunity to know the true way of life, with an assurance of the resurrection of the body after we are dead. Thus, Easter offers all believers the hope of new life in true communion with Christ. This is the Easter relevance for today.
This Easter season, let us pray that we may truly be joy-filled people, believing that Jesus is risen and is with us.
Let us pray that we may always carry out Jesus’ command to make disciples each day by how we live our lives, making Christ known and spreading the good news of love, justice and peace, reaching out to those in need, especially those who are suffering from the aftermath of natural disasters, war and religious persecution.
Pray especially for those suffering in Japan and for an end to the violence in Libya.
In these difficult times, we must not lose hope. Rather, we must continue to pray for peace and religious freedom throughout the world, and in particular the Middle East and North Africa, who are fighting for their own rebirth.
Pope Benedict XVI explained recently that religious freedom is a building block for peace, stating “religious freedom is the essential element of a state of law – you cannot deny it without undermining all rights and fundamental freedoms”.
Pray that world leaders may practise tolerance and respect of human dignity and that disputes may be settled peacefully by drawing strength from common bonds. Let us also pray for the newly-baptised that they may embrace their new union with Christ and live their lives by Christ’s example.
My dear brothers and sisters, our problems and those of the world around us will not magically disappear on Easter morning. However, as Easter represents rebirth, renewal and hope, we are better positioned to do the work that is necessary to set ourselves on the right path.
The future is bright if we accept Jesus into our lives and truly follow His way. May the Risen Lord live in us and may we radiate Him to others by our life and example, reaching out to those in need, promoting love, justice and peace, bringing hope to those in despair, light to those in darkness, joy to those in sorrow, and love to those who are neglected.
Christ is risen! Alleluia!
A Blessed Easter to one and all!
Devotedly yours in Christ,
Archbishop Nicholas Chia
(Image above: An angel and three women are shown at Christ’s empty tomb in this painting by German artist Peter von Cornelius. CNS photo)