A woman holds a small bottle labeled with a “Vaccine COVID-19” sticker and a medical syringe in this photo illustration. CNS photo/Dado Ruvic, Reuters

Glen Argan: Easter conveys message of life and hope

  • April 3, 2021

On Easter Sunday, I will receive my first COVID vaccine. When I heard the date, it felt like an intrusion on the day of celebrating the resurrection of Our Lord. Upon reflecting about it for a while, I decided that receiving the vaccine was a fine way to mark the liturgical feast.

I have not been dead for the past year, but certainly keeping a low profile. But what better way to celebrate the Resurrection than by receiving the new lease on life that the vaccine will provide?

OK! It will not be a transformation from Earth-bound living to eternal union with God. But it will provide a psychological boost and the beginning of re-entry into society. After a year in the underground, I will start to resurface.

The inconveniences which I have experienced this past year are nothing compared with the sufferings of those who have been isolated from their loved ones, of those who have had to endure much of the pandemic alone and of those who have become seriously ill or died. The suffering of these has been like that of Jesus who had to bear betrayals and dreadful loneliness during His passion and death. If those who suffer have been blessed, it has been with the unwelcome blessing of the cross.

Still, we should not trivialize such a blessing for beneath the ordinary sufferings that we carry lies eternal life. It was through suffering that Jesus entered life with the Father, and He takes with Him the poor in spirit, the meek, those who mourn — all those mentioned in the Beatitudes.

Yet, at the same time, we should not wish this blessing on anyone. Suffering is unnatural, a burden, not part of the original blessing which God bestowed on creation and on humanity. St. Paul tells us that “the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God.” Creation has been groaning in labour pains, and we too groan inwardly as we await the redemption of our bodies (Romans 8:19-23).

We witness such groaning in the poverty of billions, in the injustice of racism, in greed, status seeking and sexual improprieties, in the violence of war and other desecrations of human life, in the exploitation and devastation of the world of nature. The COVID pandemic is but one of the many sufferings experienced by humanity. Our task is not to turn our backs on suffering but to be in solidarity with those who suffer. We are called to help establish a reign of equality, peace, respect and care.

Upon Jesus’ arrest and interrogation, the disciples head straight for Galilee where they will be far from the long arm of the Sanhedrin. They do not even wait for Jesus to be sentenced and crucified, at least in the accounts given by Mark and Matthew.

Jesus arrives in Galilee prior to His flighty disciples. On Easter morning, an angel tells Mary Magdalene, Salome and Mary the mother of James, “Go, tell His disciples and Peter that He is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see Him, just as He told you” (Mark 16:7). Although they run from the authorities, the disciples find that Jesus is not so easy to escape.

The risen Lord went to Galilee, far from the centre of power, out on the margins. It was a place about which the powerful did not care, a place they laughed at.

There, faith was lived with devotion in the daily work and duties of the common folk and in their Sabbath worship. Galilee was not paradise, but rather a home and a community. There in Nowheresville, Jesus commissioned His disciples to go forth, baptizing others and transforming the world. He promised to be with them through it all.

Easter was Christ’s bodily resurrection. Through His suffering, death and resurrection His body was made holy, the first fruit that will come to harvest with the divinization of the Earth and its creatures. The message of Easter is one of life and hope. Easter’s home is in Galilee.

The risen Christ offers hope beyond the trials and injustices of our ungodly world. He asks us to follow Him and carry the lamp of life-giving hope in our own lives. Comfort the afflicted, defend life and creation, and walk humbly with your God. He promises to be with us even in the midst of a pandemic.

(Argan writes from Edmonton.)

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