// Easter Message:
|Fr. Sebastian Thottippattu
the Celebration of love’s Triumph-
Fr. Sebastian Thottippattu
The one truth that any careful reader of the New Testament cannot fail to notice is the paradoxical eagerness of Jesus towards his suffering and death. In speaking to Nicodemus Jesus makes plain the purpose of his life: “God so loved the world that he sent his only Son that whoever believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life…As Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the son of man be lifted up so that whoever believes in him may have eternal life” (Jn.3:14-16). Jesus repeats the same words again before he is about to embark on his final journey to Jerusalem. When the Greeks come seeking to meet him he knew that his hour had come and in their presence he proclaimed: “…Now sentence is being passed on this world; now the ruler of this world is to be driven out. And when I am lifted up from the earth, I shall draw everyone to myself” (Jn.12: 31-32). Jesus speaks of his death as a means of drawing people to himself because he had spoken of it as something that he would embrace voluntarily out of love. “No one takes it from me but I lay it down of my own free will” (Jn.10:18). Through love he meant to draw people to him but it was a love that hurt him to the core. St Mother Teresa spoke of love that should hurt if it is true. The cup of suffering that Jesus would drink offering no resistance was the perfect proof of that. It was not the cruelty of the cross that made it redemptive but the immensity of love behind the acceptance of it. In the metaphor of the seed that falls to the ground and dies producing much fruit, Jesus was drawing a perfect parallel to his life and death that would bring about new life for all.
The sufferings and death of Jesus had eternal value because there was pure and unconditional love underlying it. Devoid of love, suffering is evil and is to be avoided but when love qualifies it, all suffering can turn to joy. St. Francis of Assisi bears testimony to it in his sermon on perfect joy. Love always calls for sacrifice and it hurts and hurts terribly sometimes. As a matter of fact, the prospect of the suffering awaiting him, made Jesus cringe and pray at Gethsemane, “Father, if it is your will, remove this cup from me; yet not my will but your will be done” (Lk.22:42). His human nature shrank before pain but his love for his Father and for every human being on earth overcame its bitterness. It is the same with every human being who is confronted with pain. However, the love that one brings into it can transcend the bitterness of any suffering and make one capable of embracing it. We have concrete examples of it in mothers who can endure any trouble for the sake of their children. It is known that Blessed Rani Maria, the Franciscan Clarist Sister who was martyred in India, uttered the name of Jesus at every stab wound her assassin inflicted upon her, because she was in love with Jesus to whom she had surrendered her life on entering the convent. Anything else would have drawn a different reaction from her. What made her blessed was not the cruelty of the suffering she endured but the love that sustained her through it. This is the power of the resurrection that every Christian, nay every human being, has been bequeathed at the cross. St. Paul speaks of it in his letter to the Galatians: “I am crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who live but it is Christ who lives in me. I now live my life by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal.2:20). This ought to be the state of every Christian who has taken his/her Christian life earnestly.
| The victory of Easter
is the victory of love.
The victory of Easter is the victory of love. Anywhere and everywhere where love triumphs over evil and pain, the power of the resurrection is witnessed. Easter is an open invitation to the whole of humanity to embark upon loving to the extent of losing oneself for the sake of another. “There is no greater love than this that one gives one’s life for one’s friends” (Jn. 15:13). Everyone who is on the path of love acts by the power of the resurrection. We can all truly exclaim: “Christ is Risen, Alleluia!” if we let Jesus Christ the Risen Lord, accomplish his death and resurrection in us through the occurrences of daily life that bear the shadow of the paschal mystery.