[REFLECTIONS] Dare we not speak of Easter

Father Benjamin B. Espiritu III
[REFLECTIONS] Dare we not speak of Easter


We can surely speak of Easter even in the midst of this crisis, but dare we not speak of Easter if this pandemic does not change us

It’s a first in world history: an online Holy Week for millions of people, even in Vatican City, due to the coronavirus pandemic. Rappler presents a series of reflections to help you, our reader, enter the spirit of Holy Week even in quarantine.

Happy Easter! Today we celebrate the triumph of Christ over sin and death. Today we celebrate Jesus’ rising again after going through the worst that human cruelty can inflict on one person in their time. Today we celebrate Christ victorious, and with his victory, the promise of our own salvation.

But how can we even speak of Easter in our current situation? How can we even celebrate Christ’s rising from the dead when we all still seem to be stuck in the dark tomb?

We have all been dreaming of an end to the quarantine, and to this pandemic – we have all been counting days, painfully and patiently waiting. People have been suffering because of the lack of jobs, and lack of income. People are becoming restless because of hunger. We are exhausting our resources in helping the poor, though we can only do so much. And yet, the quarantine was even extended

How can we speak of Easter when people have been suffering the loss of loved ones without even the chance to mourn them and to grieve for them properly? We have lost so many of our good doctors, self-giving medical staff who have willingly served the sick even when it meant that thay have to put their own lives on the line.

How can we speak of Easter when people have been suffering because of this abnormal life, some more than others; when all we want is to get back up and running, and not just stuck in our houses.

AND YET TODAY WE PROCLAIM, “ALLELUIA! HE IS RISEN!” Christ has triumphed, and we have eternal life!

How can we even speak of Easter now? Now more than ever, we can speak of Easter as a sign of hope, and promise of new life. Jesus suffered and died with us, and remains with us in our suffering – promising us that this will not end with suffering alone. That he will bring us to his glory, and that by his power and our cooperation, all these will end well. In his love and mercy, he will not leave us in the dark tomb – and all will be well again.

Many of us pray that we all return to the normal course of things – when we can to go to work again, when we can go out for work and leisure without the danger of getting sick, when we can all gather in church again and celebrate the mysteries of our faith and our lives together. We all long to be free of our face masks, of the quarantine passes, of the curfew, and of the threat of asymptomatic carriers. We just want to live again, and not just survive.

But while many pray for this abnormal time to end, and for life to return to normal, I dare pray not. I pray that we do not just return to normal.

Dare we not speak of Easter at all if we will just return to the normal – if the normal that we will return to is the same way of life that brought us all to the suffering we experience today. When you take a second look at the things that make us suffer in this world, they are really caused by our own doing.

I believe that what we suffer now is not God’s punishment. They are the consequences of the greed and exploitation of those who have trod this earth before us, if not the fruits of our own abuse of other people and of ourselves, in our generation. What we suffer now is the consequence of generations of abuse and exploitation of the earth. These are the fruits of wanting more and more at the expense of others, now depriving this generation of the good life that it deserves. This is not God’s punishment – we impose it upon ourselves.

Believing in God who suffers with and for us, who loves us unconditionally and loves us even while we are sinners, surely God did not want this for us. All he ever desires is to take us out of the misery, out of the pit that we dig for ourselves, again and again. If there’s anyone to blame – let it not be God. It’s us, collectively us.

New ways of living

So dare we not speak of Easter at all if all we want is a return to normal, as if nothing happened to us, and we return to business as usual.

DARE WE NOT SPEAK OF EASTER AT ALL if we return to a life of just fending for oneself, of being selfish and greedy. We saw, with the hoarding of food and resources, that the well-to-do can outbuy the daily wager, especially in a time of crisis. We saw how hoarding of medical supplies actually left hospitals in need – the very ones who should have been the priority were the ones who beg for supplies. We saw how, in times of crisis, we are in fact at the mercy of each other.

DARE WE NOT SPEAK OF EASTER AT ALL if we will not begin to give priority and attention those who produce our food – our farmers, fisherfolk, and market vendors, and those who transport their produce. Now, more than ever, we realize that the very people we take for granted, the very people society often marginalizes are the very people keeping us alive, in and out of crisis.

DARE WE NOT SPEAK OF EASTER AT ALL if we will continue to give more priority to wherever else than to the basic needs of people, especially the poor: for health and shelter, and for food security for everyone.

DARE WE NOT SPEAK OF EASTER AT ALL if political interest will take the better part of the argument, than the people who cry out for help in the streets; if imposing the law, whatever it takes, takes priority over addressing the reason why the law seems unreasonable for people.

DARE WE NOT SPEAK OF EASTER AT ALL if we do not give due attention to health workers, doctors, and nurses – our so-called frontliners, often overworked and underappreciated; if medical supplies are not sufficiently stocked – especially now that we realize a pandemic of this magnitude is possible.

DARE WE NOT SPEAK OF EASTER AT ALL if we will not learn to care for our environment – and realize that we can actually live comfortably without producing much pollution; if we will not promise to take care of the earth for future generations.

DARE WE NOT SPEAK OF EASTER AT ALL if we will not begin to live knowing that our lives are interconnected – that what can kill another person may also kill me, or what sickness I may have may also cause others to be sick, and so I have to take care of others as much as I am taking care of myself.

We can surely speak of Easter even in the midst of this crisis, but dare we not speak of Easter if our experience of suffering and death, this pandemic that we are all surviving, does not change us.

We can only speak of Easter if its message of persistent hope, even in the midst of uncertainty, difficulty, and even despair, can bring us to new life and new ways of living. Christ did not just go back to normal after he suffered and died. When he resurrected, his risen body is glorified. May we all be given new life, and new ways of living and being, when we rise again from this tomb. – Rappler.com

Father Benjamin B. Espiritu III is a newly ordained priest serving the Archdiocese of San Fernando, Pampanga. A graduate of the Jesuit-run San Jose Seminary, he is currently assigned as Parochial Vicar of the Parroquia de la Inmaculada Concepcion in Guagua, Pampanga.

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