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The Easter Message Speaks to a Pandemic

An Easter Reflection by Fr. Ron

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle begins his message for Easter 2020 with these words:

“As we prepare to celebrate Easter 2020, finally the world is united. We are united in fear of what tomorrow will bring, of not knowing if our societies will withstand the devastating impact of the Coronavirus pandemic and if we or our family members will survive this terrible moment.

We are in the garden of Gethsemane with the disciples and our faith is being badly shaken. Many of us are suffering and are tempted to feel that we have nowhere to turn as science, our governments and the knowledge we have developed to this point in history offer us no solutions.”

So what does the our faith in the resurrection mean in the midst of a pandemic? Will we allow our fears to overwhelm us? Does anything unite us beyond our fears?

I propose that the message of the resurrection is precisely the antidote that God holds out to us. The basic message of Easter is that Jesus Christ has conquered sin, and evil, and even death. There is no power in this world that is stronger than God. There is no evil that God cannot conquer. In the resurrection of Jesus, God has assured believers that they have no reason to fear. God is still in charge.

The mystery of the incarnation teaches us that God has a bias for using human persons to bring healing to our world. Miracles happen in very ordinary ways. I believe that we can see the hand of God working in our world today in a way that will conquer the evil we have named covid-19. Scientists are working hard to find a cure and to come up with a vaccine. Medical personnel and all kinds of first responders are making heroic sacrifices to care for the sick. Sacrificial love has been made manifest by grocery store workers, teachers, clergy, delivery persons, government leaders, and a host of other professions. We are told that 90% of people are making the sacrifice of staying at home for the sake of the common good. God’s grace is at work in the daily sacrifices of so many people. God has certainly not left us alone.

The Easter message is that God is faithful to his promise. God promised that death would not be the final victor. God raised Jesus from the dead. This is the root and foundation of our hope. It is this confidence that can make us strong in the face of evil and can help us to overcome our fears.

Our faith in the resurrection gives us reason to rejoice even in the midst of so many challenges. As the children of Israel returned to Jerusalem after a long exile, Nehemiah told them: “Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” May it be so for us this Easter.

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