AT first blush, one wonders why the Pontiff at his Easter Message delivered before he imparted his blessing “urbi et orbi”, argued that Easter is not based on a myth, a theory or a fairy tale, but rather on the very real historical event of Christ’s death and resurrection.
The resurrection “is not a theory, but a historical reality…it is neither a myth nor a dream, it is not a vision or a utopia, it is not a fairy tale, but it is a singular and unrepeatable event: Jesus of Nazareth, son of Mary, who at dusk on Friday was taken down from the cross and buried, has victoriously left the tomb,” he posited.
But, come to think of it, this has come come very opportune at this point in history when religion, or more precisely, Christianity, has been mostly relegated to the cultic and not the praxis—which, ironically, finds a phenomenon of an increasing religiosity, albeit more popular than mature, in an increasingly secular generation.
Says the Holy Father: “Even if through Easter, Christ has destroyed the root of evil, he still wants the assistance of men and women in every time and place who help him affirm his victory using his own weapon: the weapons of justice and truth, mercy, forgiveness and love.”
And that is the punch, because ritualism does not necessarily translate into the love of neighbor. Easter being historical must be transcendental too so that it goes out beyond the confines of one’s personal need of religion. It must be something provocative of God’s love that, in the first place, has carried out Christ’s victory over death, the selfish dominion of evil.
Obviously carrying the baggage of his recent visit to Africa, Pope Benedict XVI focused his Easter message with: “My thoughts move outward from the Holy Land to neighboring countries, to the Middle East, to the world world…At a time of world food shortage, of financial turmoil, of old and new forms of poverty, of disturbing climate change, of violence and deprivation which force many to leave their homelands in search of a less precarious form of existence, of the ever-present threat of terrorism, of growing fears over the future, it is urgent to rediscover the grounds for hope.”
Keeping Easter merely to satisfy the anthropological need to worship may indeed be mythical. It is the kind of Easter that is devoid of the Easter fruit of loving one another.
A Christian Easter, however, proclaims a newness of life that is umbilically entwined with lives of others. It provokes a brotherhood that is sealed by consanguinity—not by the blood that runs in the family, caste or race, but by the very blood of Christ risen from death. This is the kind of Easter that spontaneously acquires an existential basis to shout: Alleluia!