CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 15 June 2019

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It is worth believing

Can you imagine the headlines? 

Empty tomb in happy valley cemetery!
Rumours of dead man walking

I don’t think that we will see such a headline in the South China Morning Post. Maybe it wouldn’t even cover it. It may well be written off as the hallucinations of a few late night revellers on their way home from an all night binge.

However, nearly 2,000 years ago it did happen and a few rural nobodies—including a few from the fishing sector—reported to the people in the big city that they had met Jesus, their leader and friend.

He had been executed as a criminal and yet his followers gradually became convinced that he had risen from the dead and was again living among them.

It was as astonishing then as it would be today. Of course, officialdom did not take it too seriously and the chronicles of the time only pay it passing attention. There is at least one reference to it in the histories of Josephus, a Jewish historian, who decided to support the occupying Roman colonisers.

Nevertheless, that unexpected event has made tremendous changes to human history. From that day on the followers of Jesus went out to tell this wonderful news to the world.

Down the centuries, many people have come to believe in this marvellous event. Indeed, it is the turning point of human history, when the carrier of God’s love among us, Jesus Christ, showed the authenticity and power of that love.

Sadly, others have not been moved. Some have been scornful
or derisive. Some have smiled
politely and turned away and still do today. This should not surprise us.

In different parts of the world we celebrate the resurrection in various ways. The old Roman calendar uses Easter.

Some people greet each saying, Christ is risen! and get the response, He is risen indeed! Others fast from eggs during Lent, so have lots of them to give away. They decorate them.

Others have given up yeast and celebrate with freshly cooked buns. Each has its own beauty. But our best celebration is in the liturgy, with the readings from the scriptures and symbols of light and the water of baptism.

Some of these symbols may be a bit remote in our high rise city. Our ancestors had few lights. They got up when it was light and went to bed when it got dark. The darkness could be fearsome. So the Easter fire and the candle were powerful.

But we don’t see the darkness in this city that never sleeps. We need new language, new symbols, to express what the resurrection means. Ancient symbols can be powerful, but they can lack impact.

Yet Easter does not date. It is always new and life-giving. The message that God loves us and came among us is just as beautiful today as it ever was.

In big-city isolation love is more necessary than before. And God’s love is so powerful it can even overcome death.

We live in a culture which values death over life, violence over love, and using others over serving others. The message of God’s love is even more necessary today than ever before.

Because we live in God’s love, we value life, we value love, we value service and we value everything that is good.

RO’B