Cycle [C] Easter

 First Reading: [Gen. 1:1-2:2]; Second Reading: [Gen. 22:1-18]; 

Third Reading: [Ex. 14:15-31, 15:20-21];

              Fourth Reading: [Is. 54:5-14];

              Fifth Reading: [Is. 55:1-11];

              Sixth Reading: [Bar. 3:9-15, 3:32-4:4];

              Seventh Reading: [Ez. 36:16-17, 18-28];

              Epistle: [Rom. 6:3-11];

              Gospel: [Lk. 24:1-12]

The quest for immortality is not only one of the aims of the present, but also that it has been sought throughout history. Quest for immortality is as old as the history of mankind. One of the earliest symptoms of this quest is the Epic of Gilgamesh. Escaping death is one of its central themes. 

Many monks, mostly practitioners of Shingon Buddhism, have turned to the nightmarish practice of self-mummification in

order to prevent their bodies from decaying. The process involved gradual starving yourself, drinking a resin-like substance, and then voluntarily entering a burial chamber. Some believe that the monks who entered this "state" would be called upon in billions of years, when humanity would need them — and their bodies intact.

Elixirs of Life, potions and pills that could make the person who consumed them immortal was prominent in the history of imperial China. There were numerous alchemists who claimed to have perfected the formula.

To ensure a successful afterlife for the dead the ancient Egyptians practiced mummification. During the First Dynasty of Egypt some of the chosen servants would be put to death and buried around the king's tomb.

But all these tombs remain occupied with their mortal remains. Everywhere we have the tomb stones. They indicate: Here lies Caesar. Here lies Milton. Here Lies John. Here lies Martha. But there is only one tomb that is found empty. That is the tomb of Jesus. Easter gives a final answer to the quest of man to be immortal.

The Easter stories are full of people getting confused. Mary thinks Jesus' body has been stolen. Peter sees the linen wrappings and can't work out what it's all about. The disciples didn't understand the Scriptures. The angels question Mary, and she still doesn't know what's going on. Then she thinks Jesus is the gardener. 

Easter has burst into our world—the world of space, time, and matter, real history and real people and real life. Immortality has become a reality. The empty tomb of Jesus changes everything.  The Resurrection represents Jesus’ victory over death and the promise of eternal life for mankind.

Lent is meant to show us to strive to be good. It is quite difficult to immerse oneself wholeheartedly and perfectly in the requisite fasting, almsgiving, and prayer. In fact, if we have picked the right penances, Lent is impossible to live flawlessly. It is a preparation to lead us to the Easter joy.

Easter celebrations show us that we should rejoice.  Easter joy—the kind of joy that astounds, shocks, and lasts—is rare in today’s world. Instead, sadness masquerading as self-satisfaction, anger, sarcasm, and bitterness often dominates. We all feel these shades of sadness overcoming us from time to time and it is born of an inability to rejoice. We know how to grasp for transitory delights. We are good at entertaining ourselves and engaging in pleasurable activities for the moment. But these things melt away almost as soon as we experience them. Very few of us know how to live a lasting Easter joy beyond fleeting pleasures.

The saints find a balance between acknowledging the pain of this life while living in peace and hope. Each in their own unique way, they live their love for the Lord with Easter joy. 

One of my friends shared his experience in the last Easter. The world was almost engrossed in COVID pandemic.  He was out that day. While he was returning home he picked up lunch boxes for his family and special sweets for his daughter. When he was about to get into his car two well dressed teenagers approached him and very politely requested for some help to have a meal. He checked his wallet and found no cash, but only cards. So he turned down their request. Surprisingly, one of them said. Thank you uncle. Happy Easter to you and your family. 

He was astounded by their response. He saw his daughter in them. She was only a few years younger to them.  He called them back to share the lunch boxes he had, and the sweets he had picked up for his daughter. Unwillingly they accepted it, and said, “Our prayers and wishes will be with your family”.

When he reached home he seemed a little worried. Because he didn’t have enough food for them and he could not bring the sweets his daughter had asked. With much reluctance he told them what had happened. To his surprise his daughter hugged him and said, “Papa, If you had come without giving them anything we will not be able to enjoy this food. Their hungry face would have been haunting us. Thank you.”

His action made their Easter more meaningful and enjoyable.

It is very difficult to do what he has done. We become possessive. In order to follow the example of the Saints and in Jesus’ footsteps, we must learn to make sacrifices. The reason very few people experience lasting Easter joy is that we all want to bypass this aspect.

Let us proclaim, “The Lord has risen” and make our Easter Joy Complete with our little actions of kindness. 

Wish you all Happy Easter.