What Easter Is for Us
Bp. Broderick Pabillo
Easter is the greatest event for all humankind. It is the triumph of God’s love over evil and death. Jesus’ death on the cross is the greatest love that can be offered. Though sinless and blameless, Jesus took the blame for the sins of humanity for all time, since the beginning of the human race till the end of time. Jesus offered himself. Is this offering acceptable? Is this kind of love effective? Will it overcome the force of evil and death? If the death and burial of Jesus were the end of the story, we are not sure whether his love and offering were effective. Easter is the confirmation that Jesus’ love is triumphant. It is able to overcome all evil, even death!
Jesus has emptied himself to the fullest. “Being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Phil 2:8) On the part of God, He accepted him and lifted him up. His offering was acceptable and effective. “God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name.” (Phil 2:9) We therefore loudly acclaim ALLELUIA! Praise the Lord!
Easter is not only about Jesus. It is about all of us. First and foremost, Easter has truly set us free from the power of evil and death. The prophet Ezekiel has prophesied: “You shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people.” (Ezekiel 37:13) We are no longer enslaved by sin. Death is not our end. We are set free! Not only that! The power of Easter is now operative in us. As Jesus has overcome evil we too can overcome evil. We are assured by these words of Jesus: “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (Jn 16:33) This gives us confidence to face life and all its vicissitudes. The assurance of victory is given to us. All acts of love and trust will be rewarded.
Pope Francis urges us: “The evils of our world – and those of the Church – must not be excuses for diminishing our commitment and our fervor…. Our faith is challenged to discern how wine can come from water and how wheat can grow in the midst of weeds. (Evangelii Gaudium 84) Because of Easter we do not fall into pessimism and defeatism. We are assured of Jesus’ victory, which will also be ours if we stay close to him and follow his path. The Holy Father warned: “One of the more serious temptations which stifles boldness and zeal is a defeatism which turns us into disillusioned pessimists. Nobody can go off to battle unless he is fully convinced of victory beforehand. If we start without confidence, we have already lost half the battle and we bury our talents.” (Evangelii Gaudium 85) With the Easter event, we are convinced of victory beforehand!
“We are Easter people and Alleluia is our song!” the Church Fathers tell us. So we face sufferings, setbacks, evil and even death with confidence. We shall overcome! Jesus has shown us the way. We are assured that love will triumph, no matter how bitter is the hatred; truth will shine forth, no matter how sinister are the lies; righteousness will prevail, no matter how injustice is prevalent. This is good news, for it seems at the moment that lies, violence, and hatred on the one hand, and apathy, indifference and skepticism on the other hand, seem to prevail. But this is not so! The power of the resurrection in operative among us Easter people! Jesus is risen!