There is a lot of hopelessness that brings forth sadness in the world today. The news always seems negative, stories are always about tragedies. When we listen to international news, we are stunned by shootings in schools, the difficulties of war and the poverty and anguish that so many people endure, especially the immigrants and refugees who are just seeking a safe place for their families to live in peace. In our local scenario too, we find the scourge of alcohol dependence, failure of the local government to investigate credible allegations of torture, enforced disappearance of persons, and violence against religious minorities.
Easter is meant to be a symbol of hope, renewal, and new life. The hope of Easter is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness. Lord Jesus’ victory over sin and death is one of paramount realities that lead us to have this positive outlook. We as Christians are invited to be like Abraham who in hope believed against all hope (Rom. 4: 18-22). According to 20 years of scientific research conducted by positive psychology founder Martin Seligman, hope reduces feelings of helplessness, boosts happiness, reduces stress, and improves our quality of life.
Following their Lord and master, from the very beginning onwards, the Apostles bore witness to Jesus, who brought hope to all humanity in his Resurrection. The two disciples on the road to Emmaus were enlightened by the resurrected Christ himself and thus, they rose above their sorrows, confusion, disillusionments, and despair (Luke. 24:13-35) and they toiled hard to dispel the darkness of sin and despair among the people whom they served.
In the early XIX century, like lots of Catholics, young Eugene de Mazenod, during the Easter Triduum, on a Good Friday, also went into his parish church; at some stage in the veneration of the cross he was moved to tears. St. Eugene’s Good Friday experience, reminds us that it is one of his highest points’ of his conversion. His conversion led him to forego life of pleasure and to embrace ascetic life. He committed himself to become a missionary to bring hope to the people, who are the most abandoned, living in utter hopeless conditions. He desired that every Oblate could experience the same transformation he underwent on Good Friday and take a new turn to commit himself to bring hope to the poor people who are in distress and agony.
We, as disciples of Jesus as well as the sharers of the charism of St. Eugene, are invited to be Easter people, to commit and bear witness to the resurrected Christ. As the stones of the tomb of Jesus were removed let’s remove the stones of hatred, injustice and ethnic conflict that have entrapped thousands in despair and hopelessness. Let’s cultivate the sentiments such as compassion, tolerance, reconciliation, forgiveness, justice and respect for the dignity and rights of each member of our country.
May this blessed celebration of Easter bring us new hope, Alleluia!!! Happy Easter!!!
Rev. Fr. Edwin Vasantharajah, OMI Provincial Superior, Jaffna Province, Sri Lanka
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