Today is Easter in the Christian world, but the faithful this year are unable to gather together to celebrate one of the religion’s holiest days. A viral pandemic has swept the world, making any public gathering an unhealthy roulette that could bring infection — and possible death — to any who defy public orders to stay home.
Church bells might peal to announce the sacrament, but parishioners this year are unable to answer the call. Priests will celebrate Mass alone, in empty churches; some will be captured on cameras that will stream their offerings to those who wish to witness the services on one of various video streaming platforms. Some families will break bread among themselves, consecrated by their faith and the universal spirit of the day.
Being homebound might be frustrating to many people who had hoped to gather with their friends to raise their voices in praise, and then take their children, all dressed up in new spring clothes, to hunt hidden eggs or enjoy family feasts.
While the current health crisis might put a somber tone on the day for many, we should remember that Christ’s resurrection is nothing without his death, that He had to die in order to prove his divinity.
And in so doing, he offered his followers a promise of victory over death itself.
“For the Son of Man himself did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many,” Jesus told his disciples.
Rebirth, the promise of renewal, is a recurring theme in the Judeo-Christian faiths, from the promise that Israel would someday thrive after escaping enslavement in Egypt, to the promise that weak mortals can always find their way back into God’s graces through atonement for their sins.
“Again I will restore you, and you shall be rebuilt, O virgin Israel! Again you shall shake your tambourines, and go forth dancing with the merrymakers. Again you shall plant your vineyards on the mountains of Samaria, and those who plant them shall enjoy the fruits,” we read in the biblical book of Jeremiah.
Our current difficulties reminds us that tribulation is a part of our lives; it always has been and always will be. Like the season of Lent that many Christians followed to prepare for this day, hardship can serve as a cleansing agent, reminding us of our weaknesses and instilling in us a renewed humility. It helps us to better appreciate the times of plenty We are reminded that there is not triumph without tribulation; there is no victory without a struggle.
And we can take comfort in the words that St. Paul wrote to the people of Rome: “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us. For creation was made subject to futility, not of its own accord but because of the one who subjected it, in hope, that creation itself would be set free from slavery to corruption and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God. …
“For in hope we are saved.”
We wish everyone a safe, and hopeful, Easter season.