Easter heralds a culture of life
It is the firm faith of the Christian religion that Jesus Christ of
Nazareth, victimised on a Roman cross by the religious authorities who
rose against him, has risen from the dead. He is no ghost or phantom. He
is alive and real. Many of His chosen disciples did see Him, shared
meals with Him and had Him as a companion on their later journeys. This
is the witness of the Christian Holy Scriptures which carry these
poignant accounts in the Gospels.
The Resurrection of
Christianity took off from this basic and radical faith. The early
protagonists proclaimed this truth at the risk of their own lives. In
fact, most of them were martyred. For the sake of their faith, many were
indeed ready to sell their material possessions, to share all things in
common and care for the needs of the poor.
Communism thus appeared in its rudimentary form in the earliest
Christian communities in Palestine and later, in the mighty cosmopolitan
centres of the Greco - Roman Empire, such as Rome and Athens. Thus,
Easter which is the annual festival of the Risen Christ, heralded a
culture of life and pioneered a civilisation based on love for mankind.
Human life at risk today
Today, human life is at risk in many ways: On the highways because of
the ever speeding traffic, in the neighbourhood because of quarrels and
misunderstandings, in public life because of violence, out in the open
because of natural disasters and calamities and due to killer-diseases
such as cancer, heart-ailments and HIV-AIDS. To many who are pessimists,
only death and destruction meet their eye on the horizons.
Prophets of doom decry the litanies of possible catastrophes and
dangers, engendering a mindset of gloom and despair. There seems to be
no counter-winner against death to which every human being will finally
succumb, turning to dust from which he emerged! Violence against life in
principle, ideologically through legislation in favour of abortion and
violence against human dignity and lives of people, are on an alarming
Though physical death is the natural end to life, whatever way it
comes, it is to the dismay of every right-thinking person and of
enlightened moral conscience that violence against life keeps surging in
our society today. Jesus of Nazareth was a victim of such a deplorable
situation resulting from public sentiment wrongly manipulated and
verdicts being unjustly pronounced. In addition, a lot of social
pressure from power-blocs including the highest religious authority was
arrayed against Him. Human life in general, the safety of ethnic and
minority groups, that of the poor and marginalised and even that of
nations, face multiple forms of dangers and threats. Unfortunately,
their laments and pleas are not heard loud enough by civilised people
and civil society. It is true that concerns of national security and
inner stability require a certain amount of surveillance and vigilance.
Yet, exaggerated fear and vested interests can ignite a pathological
preoccupation that leads to taking potentially dangerous means to ensure
safety. One could be led to think falsely that being armed to the teeth
can be an effective deterrent against security threats and attacks.
It will be frightening to live on a planet filled with nations
flexing their nuclear muscles, though we are assured that they are for
peaceful purposes of development and technological advancement.
We have come to a moment of mankind’s history when such assurances
can be honestly put in doubt, on a global level. Nuclear technology runs
its own risks of danger and tragedy as evidenced in Chernobyl of Russia,
recently in India and in Japan.
World pressure on countries striving to acquire nuclear capability is
mounting precisely because of the dangers involved in nuclear armament
and proliferation. Only the United Nations can, at international level,
monitor this situation of a global nuclear environment. The planning,
manufacture, sale, deployment and use of nuclear weapons have to be
frowned upon as wanting in international justice and our responsibility
Three other specific dangers are concurrently putting human life and
social peace in peril. They are abortion, euthanasia and terminal
diseases. In the Christian perspective and understanding, every effort
must be made and strategies deployed to arrest these trends that render
us restless and instil a sense of fear. Terminal diseases such as
cancer, HIV-AIDS and terminal heart disease should be left at the door
of medical expertise, competence and skill to deal with.
Humanity still yearns for preventive measures, which for sure, is a
better remedy to tide over these worldwide health hazards. It is true
that there is a complexity of moral and psycho-social issues allied to
these problems. The violence of war and its disastrous aftermath have to
be condemned in the name of every religion and human civilisation. It is
estimated that when contrasted with early civil wars and the two World
Wars gone by, the victims today are the unarmed and innocent civilians
who are killed and maimed in their thousands when wars and conflicts are
To this must be added the tragedies of displaced persons who end up
in makeshift camps, some of whom are destined to linger and languish for
years. Thus, life and the joy of living are snuffed out of these
unfortunates who are victims of circumstances beyond their control. In
our country, we have beheld this drama of death, untold suffering and
destruction that was the fall-out of a protracted battle against
terrorism. The widows and the orphans, destruction of property, life and
limb have been frighteningly real and shocking. Urgent measures to
create a just society and the lessons learnt from this pitiable national
calamity should prove a strong deterrent to avoid such curses overtaking
Jesus Christ said things that were hard to bear for the
self-righteous religious leaders and those in seats of power as Pilate,
Herod in his own country and Caesar in Rome. Pilate alarmingly did not
even know what “truth” was. When told by Jesus, the teacher from Galilee
who faced him already scourged and crowned with thorns what it was, he
turned his back on it and sneered, washing hands off the crime of
innocent blood that was soon to be shed by his victim.
Herod, the curious regent cunning as he was, happened to be called a
fox by Christ, for he had held the carpenter’s son from Nazareth as an
object of ridicule and desired to have miracles performed as his
magicians would do. God and mammon were clearly counter-posed when Jesus
declared that what is Caesar’s should be given to him and to God, the
things that are God’s.
In His Sermon on the Mount, considered by religious authors as a
classic in spirituality, He declared as a beatitude that the poor are
blessed for the blessings of the Kingdom of God are reserved to them.
Conversely, it would be hard for a rich man to enter God’s kingdom
though a camel might succeed passing through an eye of a needle!
Christ taught that God and mammon (understood as relentless pursuit
of material goods and greed for money and possessions) are in opposite
camps. God is on the side of the poor against the mammon. He heals the
sick of bodily diseases, brings solace to troubled and depressed minds
and is open to all without distinction of social class, ethnic
differences and even gender-based factors that ostracise men and women.
Saul, the die-hard Pharisee glued to his rigid and legalistic
religious traditions, after his conversion, became Paul the evangeliser,
the greatest protagonist of the new religion taught by Jesus. The third
day after Jesus Christ was harassed and killed, He rose again and proved
that the final enemy of man which is death is finally overcome. Sin too
which is at bottom the cause of death, had been vanquished. Men and
women, by living in the spirit not giving in to the desires of the flesh
and all other material forms of greed, loving God and open in solidarity
with the neighbour can now embark on nobler pathways of life.
Love conquers all
Love conquers all. “Greater love than this, no man hath” Christ said,
“that he lays down his life for his friends”. His death, therefore, is a
source of liberation for mankind.
All oppression based on the abuse of powers-that-be and
mass-illusions diffused against the truth are now rendered powerless.
Only truth and love will open the true doors to real and lasting
happiness and peace in the world. Ever since this man from Nazareth
entered the scene, this has been the witness of history for the past
The great emperors and kings of his time have come and gone like any
other who followed ever since to our day. But, this carpenter’s son from
the unknown village of Nazareth in the Galilee of old, the Eternal
Galilean, lives on in the hearts of millions to this day who look up to
Him as their supreme guru, liberator, Saviour and God. As Phillip Schaff
(1819-1893), the Swiss-born Church historian wrote: “This man Jesus
without money and arms conquered more millions than Alexander, Caesar
“Without science and learning, He shed more light on things human and
things divine than all philosophers and scholars combined. Without the
eloquence of schools, He spoke such Words of Life, as were never spoken
before or since, and produced effects which lie beyond the reach of the
orator or poet. Without writing a single line, He set more pens in
motion, and furnished themes for more sermons, orations, discussions,
learned volumes, works of art and songs of praise, than the whole
phalanx of great men of ancient and modern times”.
The earth itself we live in can be compared to a table laying out an
exquisite banquet open to all. How do we sit at this table? The light of
Easter is an eclipse of death and suffering. A veritable prism glowing
with hope, Easter, therefore, is a clarion call to dismantle the culture
of death with its aggressive violations against life. Walking in the
light of Easter, modern man too must rise again to his noblest ideals.