We are a Hopeful People

Al Cariño
Reproduced with Permission

Luke tells us that at dawn of the first day of the week after Jesus was crucified, women went to Jesus' tomb (Lk. 24: 1-12). Then two men in dazzling garments appeared to them saying, "Why do you seek the living one among the dead? He is not here, but he has been raised."

"He is not here, but he has been raised." The only physical proof the gospels provide about the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the "empty tomb" - which is a denial rather than an affirmation of something.

Recall that during His lifetime, Jesus, in His conversations with the disciples and His public appearances, said that the time would come when He would be arrested, tried, condemned to death and crucified to death on a cross. All these things happened to Him and we commemorated them in the previous days. But on the third day, He rose from the dead. If Jesus did not rise from the dead as He had promised, then He would be lying and thus all His words and deeds, marvelous as they were, would come to naught.

Thus because of His resurrection, just like the first people who ran to the tomb and after seeing the "empty tomb" believed, we, too, believe that Jesus is really what He said Himself to be - the Son of the Father, God-Made-Man, our Brother and our Savior.

In the first reading (Acts 10: 34, 37-43), Peter in his sermon to the people in Jerusalem said, "He (Jesus) commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name."

The resurrection of Jesus from the dead answers the most fundamental questions humankind has raised since the beginning of time, some of which are the following: What is the meaning of life? Is life just a vain struggle for some joy and satisfaction that is terminated by death? Are we in this world just to "eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die"? What are evil and sin? Can we triumph over them? What about suffering? Is there no end to our suffering or are we born only to suffer? After suffering, what? What is death? After death, what?

These questions become more relevant when we experience deep personal crises. They are relevant now that we are experiencing extreme difficulties brought about primarily by the deteriorating economic condition prevailing not only in the world at large but specially in our country. This exacerbates the already immense poverty we see all around us. And because of this, we might be tempted to lose hope, to despair.

This should not be. By His resurrection, Jesus has shown us that life is not a meaningless puzzle. With it, we can find answers to life's questions -- personal and societal -- and act accordingly. Thus because He had conquered sin and death with His resurrection, pain, suffering and, even death accepted and offered in faith and love, help bring about our passage to a new life, to a glorified life.

The message of Easter is this: Yes, we Filipinos are poor. Yes, we have suffered and continue to suffer. Yes, we have sinned and continue to sin. But despite all these, we continue to hope, we remain a hope-ful people. Why? Because Jesus has risen. For if our Savior and Brother has triumphed over evil and even over death, then we, people of hope that we are, can do likewise.

With the Risen Jesus in our midst and within us, we can go against our evil inclinations and the established evil practices in our community and country -- consumerism, vested interest, graft and corruption, etc. We can help work for their elimination by refusing to be a part of the system and doing something against them by the way we act and live.

Finally, with the Risen Christ we can contribute our share in making this world a better place to live in especially by living the Risen Christ's values of truth, justice, peace and love. More concretely, we can make ourselves and our community better by living the Risen Christ's value of truth which includes honesty in all our dealings with others; of justice which includes giving others their due and working hard for the upliftment of the poor among us; of peace which includes resolving conflicts through non-violent means; and love which includes respect and understanding for all and sharing with those who have none.

Doing whatever good we can in this regard will certainly go a long way in making the values of the Risen Christ reign in our midst. May Mary, the first to enjoy the fruits of the resurrection, be always our guide and model!

A Blessed Easter to all of you!