Saturday, April 19, 2014
“I wish you all a joyful and holy Easter celebration. May the Sun of the Risen Christ’s Spring enter deep into our scepticism, darkness and coldness of our heart, to awaken hope, faith and love. Then Life and Joy will erupt within us. And we will finally emerge from the long night, toward the dawn of the new and eternal Springtime” (Fr. Manuel João Pereira Correia, Comboni missionary, in the 2014 Pascal greetings to his friends).
Easter is coming! Life is coming!
Our eyes and our senses can perceive it and contemplate it everywhere around us. In the various colours of the lush of nature, promptly awakened by the spring sun after the long winter hibernation. In the delicate scents of flowers, buds and luxuriant meadows. In the gentle breeze that caresses our face. In the cheerful chirping of the birds as they greet the blue sky. In the fresh aromas of the first products and fruits of the new season... Everywhere there is an explosion of life and joy. But all of this is only a sign of something else.
Easter is coming! Life is coming! Everywhere echoes the joyful cry of the Risen Christ, the conqueror of death, the Lord of Life. The new Era is coming, that of our humanity, the Dream hidden in the heart of history! This is the hidden message brought by the new moon of springtime.
For how long the extinguished ashes of our hopes have been laying in the tomb of our heart? For the last four days, as the remains of Lazarus? For the last forty days as the ashes we received at the beginning of Lent, waiting for the new fire of Easter vigil? Or even for the last forty years, as the people of Israel who left their dead behind, in the sand of the desert?
Hope is not our particularly strong point. Especially when we get to the crucial and impassable moment of death. As long as there is life – but only up to that point – there is hope. “If you had come earlier, our brother would not have died... but now it’s too late,” the two sisters of Lazarus, Martha and Mary, seem to say. Beyond that fateful crossing, only faith – if barely – still manages to take a few steps. But once we cross the threshold of the “fourth day”, at the beginning of the decay, then there is nothing more we can do. And it seems that not even God can do something about it. We are left just with compassion to mourn our dead.
And so, with the passage of time, our heart becomes a large graveyard filled with the graves of shattered dreams, stifled desires, dashed expectations, unfulfilled promises, lost friends and relatives, accumulated sufferings...
How to let the light filter into these catacombs of ours? There’s a secret way! Somewhere in our heart there is a garden where we have dug a new tomb. A way to tame our death. Well, do as Joseph of Arimathea did. Stand up, declare yourself to be a disciple of Christ, ask for his body and lovingly offer him that tomb of yours. There lay down the body of Jesus. You’ll see how, on the third day, that tomb will explode with Light, Life and Joy. All the graves of your graveyard will then be opened. Your many “Lazzarus” will come out, awaken by Jesus. He will invite you to unbind them and let them go. Some to leave you and reach in peace the Father’s house, without feeling bound by your continued regret. Others to still accompany you on the paths of life, as dreams, promises and passions enlivened by the Spirit of the Risen Lord.
Love is the secret of life and joy. Love conquers death. Love feeds the flame of hope and supports the fragility of faith to make it capable of dealing with the “fourth day”. From my wheelchair, as disabled and sufferer from SLA, I would like to shout: the only true disability is dystrophy of the heart and the inability to love, which paralyzes and turns us to stones.
I wish you all a JOYFUL AND HOLY EASTER CELEBRATION. May the Sun of the Risen Christ’s Spring enter deep into our scepticism, darkness and coldness of our heart, to awaken hope, faith and love. Then Life and Joy will erupt within us. And we will finally emerge from the long night, toward the dawn of the new and eternal Springtime.
P. Manuel João Pereira Correia, mccj