A very Happy Easter to you all! These words might stick in our throats a bit as we mark this Feast in the midst of such trying times. But practice saying the words and they might come a little easier. And why wouldn’t it be a Happy Easter? It was for just an experience such as this that Christ entered into our lives, shared our suffering and even our death. It was for just a moment such as this that Christ Rose victorious.
When we come face to face with our human frailty; when we realize that no amount of money or power or scientific knowhow can prevent this house of cards that we call human existence from being shaken to its core and even falling, that is the moment we begin to understand our utter need for God. We need One who is not contingent, not passing like ourselves, to reach out to us with His merciful love and to save us.
And the salvation we need is not simply a ‘genie in the bottle’ kind of short-term fix. We need something that truly gives us a hope that reaches beyond the passing nature of life in this world. We long for something only God can give, the grace of forgiveness that inoculates us with freedom from our sins and raises us to a share in God’s very life. It is only this gift that will liberate us from the tethers of this broken world so marked by suffering, pain and death.
This is what Easter is about. It is not about cute little Easter bunnies, colored eggs and showy hats. These are fine in themselves but if we forget the reason for our joy then these springtime displays become empty and superficial—as fragile as the hardboiled eggs we hide.
No, what we celebrate today is the greatest event of human history, but it is not simply a day in history. What we celebrate today is an event that turned history upside down and wrote a different ending to the long human story, doomed when left of its own accord to always end in violence and evil, suffering and death. God has written a new ending to the human drama that turns suffering into victory and death into life.
This Feast we celebrate today as we sit confined in our homes and fearful of tomorrow is exactly the Good News we need to hear! It is not another story of the impending inexorable advance of this deadly virus. It is the news that even as we do what is in our ability to avoid unnecessary suffering we need not live in fear. We are not alone. The One who has loved us so that he entered into our lives and took upon Himself our suffering is with us now. He has overcome even death itself! Christ is Risen!
A very Happy Easter, indeed!
Bp. Mark Seitz
It feels as though we are in uncharted waters. Certainly in the lifetime of most of us we cannot recall experiencing a time such as this. We have heard of pestilences such as ebola and have shuddered to consider what people on the other side of the world have experienced. But it never happened here!
Here in the U.S. A. we had things under control. We are the most prosperous, most technologically advanced nation in the world. Sure we had our challenges, but still, we had things under control.
Then a tiny little new virus comes along. It was named corona for its shape. Isn’t that cute? It begins by bringing the proud dictatorship of China to its knees. That was too bad. Then it started making its way to other places. It really began disrupting our travel plans. How inconsiderate of that tiny little pest!
The virus continued its persistent assault until it arrived on our hallowed shores—without a visa! And we began to discover that we were just as vulnerable as the rest of the world had been. No amount of technology has yet been able to hold it off. Our army, the strongest in the world, is powerless against this covert enemy.
As it drew closer and closer to our communities our concern began to grow. We began to fear for ourselves and for our loved ones. An initial reaction was to fight it by using our most vaunted weapon against human fear and suffering—we began to shop! We began to empty the stores. If we could only have all the food and toilet paper we could possibly need then we would feel better. But the truth is that no material thing is going to do it this time.
In a moment like this we know deep in our hearts that there is only One who can help us. We need a superhero. We need God to come to the rescue and fix this situation, like a genie in the bottle who will grant our wish. But where is God anyway? Why has God, if God is out there at all, allowed this to happen? And why didn’t he fix things when we asked?
Maybe we should start by not casting a blaming eye at God. Maybe we ought to start looking within. Not to say that this is caused by us. We are not that powerful. But look within to recognize the truth about ourselves—that we have lived an illusion. We, in the U.S.A., were not in control after all. Consuming would never fill the emptiness in our hearts. No amount of drugs, legal or otherwise, no amount of alcohol, no amount of food, no amount of porn or sex, no amount of money will fill that place within us that is reserved for the love of our Creator.
This world is a broken temporary place that is not our permanent home and no earthly power is going to transform it into our paradise. God is not the genie that will do that for us either.
Here we are at the end of Lent, the beginning of Easter. They are not really two distinct Seasons. They are one uninterrupted procession with our Savior through all that life can throw our way, through apparent defeat in his Crucifixion and Death, to that glorious Easter morning and beyond.
Can you see him walking through the clouds and the mist, standing upon the uncharted waters of our lives today? Can you hear him calling out to us, “Do not be afraid! I am with you!” Yes! The Risen One is in our midst. He seemed to have been defeated by the brokenness and evil present in our world. Perhaps we had an illusion that we were in charge. We had forgotten that Jesus came for a moment such as this!
Seek him now! Let us ask our Savior to help us, to walk with us, to save us. Just as for the disciples locked up in their houses in fear he will enter into our midst and say to us, “Peace be with you!”
Most Rev. Mark J. Seitz