“What we do not understand, we fear. What we fear, we grow to hate. What we hate, we try to destroy.”
John Paul II began his papacy with the words “do not be afraid.” Throughout his time pope he continued to return to this theme. “Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are an Easter people and alleluia is our song.”
What does it mean to be an Easter people?
To understand that, we must understand the beginning. so that we may understand the end.
“In the beginning God created heaven, and earth.” (Genesis 1:1)God created all that is, within this creation He established a place set apart, a garden, where He could live among His people. We call this garden, “Eden,” a word that means “joy.” We were created to live with God in the garden, freely giving Him our love and enjoying His love in return.
“But by the envy of the devil, death came into the world:” (Wisdom 2:24) Through the influence of evil,Man was tempted to turn away from God and in doing so, man lost the grace he needed to walk with God in the garden.
Exiled from Eden, man became a prisoner of Satan, the “prince of this world,” locked into a world of darkness, subject to sin and death.
But even as man was put out of the garden, God promised that He would send a redeemer, a savior who would “make all things new,” that is, restore all things according to the divine plan. And so we waited. For countless millennia, signs and wonders, and prophecy, we waited for the one that would come to free us from the grip of darkness and restore us to our proper place as sons and daughters of God.
This is that day. Now is the prince of this world is cast out and all things are drawn to God. Prisoners are set free and a light drives back the darkness. Words that have echoed throughout the centuries take on a new meaning, “do not be afraid.”
The Nature of Man
There is a story about a holy man who sat one morning beneath a tree. The roots of the tree stretched into the nearby river. As he was engaged in his morning meditation, the holy man noticed that the river began to rise, and a scorpion, caught in the roots of the tree was in danger of drowning. The man reached down to rescue the scorpion but every time he did so the scorpion struck back at him.
A traveler passing by the scene stopped and remarked to the holy man, “do you not know that is a scorpion? It is the nature of the scorpion to want to sting.”
“Yes,” replied the holy man, “but it is my nature to save, must I change my nature because the the scorpion refuses to change his?”
Wisdom and Ignorance
In the opening lines of the Gospel according to John, we are told that a “light shines in the darkness and the darkness does not overcome it.” (John 1:5) We tend to look at this struggle between light and dark as a struggle between goodness and evil, a struggle in which goodness will prevail. But there is much more to it than that.
A few translations of John render the phrase differently, “And the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” Here we are offered a different understanding of darkness. “Darkness” is an ignorance of divine things and “light” is a new understanding. In the war between Good and Evil, Evil will lose, not because it is weaker, but because it does not understand Goodness.
We are told to love our enemies, to do good to those that hate us. How can we love someone who displays such open animosity towards us, our beliefs, even our work? It helps to remember that the hatred directed at us is not usually born of malice, it is born out of ignorance.
What we do not understand, we fear. What we fear, we grow to hate. What we hate, we try to destroy.
Easter is the celebration of the risen Lord, it is a celebration of the light of understanding that drives back the darkness of ignorance, the morning star that never sets. It is the day the Lord walked free from His tomb and fulfilled all prophecy.
The grace we receive from the Easter event of the resurrection allows us to walk free in understanding without fear. We walk away from the tomb of sin and ignorance that encloses each of us, free from the fear of death. That tomb is a reality of the past. As disciples of Jesus we have been given the means to roll back the stones that seal us in the tomb.
As Christians, as an Easter people, we are called to be a light to the world, the liberating voice of Christ. We reach out to our brothers and sisters, and help free them from their tombs as well.
Now all promise is fulfilled. We anticipate the day when we too will appear with Him in Glory. Whatever may befall us in this world, and however great the suffering, we are an Easter people.
Alleluia, all hail to Him Who Is. All praise and honor and glory to the Lamb who was slain. He is risen. He lives. And we are born into a new world. The apostles bear witness to a new reality, we shall not die, we shall live.
Glory to God in the highest.
The Resurrection of theLord
Pontifex University is an online university offering a Master’s Degree in Sacred Arts. For more information visit the website at www.pontifex.university
Lawrence Klimecki, MSA, is a deacon in the Diocese of Sacramento. He is a public speaker, writer, and artist, reflecting on the intersection of art and faith and the spiritual “hero’s journey” that is part of every person’s life. He maintains a blog at www.DeaconLawrence.org and can be reached at Lawrence@deaconlawrence.com