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Easter: Celebration Of Human Spirit

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altBy P.N.Benjamin

EASTER celebrates the vibrant hope for every individual and for the entire world. It is also a warning to every evil power that preys on humankind – a warning that truth is again coming out of its tomb. Easter, thus, is a ringing reminder that the human spirit cannot be confined.

 

Christianity is primarily a religion of the dawn – a religion that addresses itself not to the dead past and its failures but to the vibrant future and its possibilities. Faith does not rest on the fact that two thousand years ago, a man, Christ, was crucified, buried and then miraculously walked out of his tomb alive. It rests rather on the evidence that He is, as He said: "alive for evermore", through the words he spoke two thousand years ago.

 

What is history but the record of the triumph of human hope? Ours is only the new chapter in an ever-continuing story of the eventual emergence of good over evil. If Easter says anything of importance to us today, it is this: "We can put truth in a grave, but it won’t stay there. We can nail it to a cross, wrap it in winding sheets and shut it up in a tomb, but it will arise."

 

There is something familiar about the account of Pontius Pilate unloosing the forces, which crucified Christ, and attempted to shut him away in a tomb. It has happened in every age. Standing there before Pilate, who had the might of the Roman Empire behind him, Jesus Christ could be said to cut a sorry figure. Yet soon all the Caesars and their legions crumbled, while "the pale Galilean" kept coming on, living ever anew in the world’s heart. The world’s tyrants, to their ultimate undoing, have always misunderstood the mightiest of all forces – Faith.

 

An eminent theologian once said: "Eternal truth is eternal. It can be distorted but not destroyed. It may have to carry a cross or drink a cup of hemlock in Grecian gaol. But after every black Friday there dawns an Easter morn".

 

Standing amid our personal Calvaries, confused and disillusioned, we need Easter to remind us that there always is "a third day" on its way. With that knowledge we can look at any evil in the face and say with confidence: "You can’t win". Is there any spirit we need more in these days?

 

Whence came the human instinct towards liberty, which again and again throughout history has broken all bonds men would place upon it? Any search for the fountainhead of "free man" concept takes us right back to a God, making Man in His own image, making him free to roam and replenish the earth, free to decide how or even whether he would worship his Creator.

 

Christ turned the world’s accepted standards upside down. It was the poor, not the rich, who were blessed; the weak, not the strong, who were to be esteemed; the pure in heart, not the sophisticated and the worldly, who understood what life was about. Righteousness, not power or money or sensual pleasure should be man’s pursuit. We should love our enemies, bless them that curse us, do good to them that hate us, and pray for them that despitefully use us, in order that we may be worthy members of a human family.

 

No words ever uttered, it is safe to say, have had anything like the impact of these, first spoken to some scores, may be hundreds, of poor, and mostly illiterate people, by a teacher who, in the eyes of the world was of small account. Besides belonging to eternity, Christ belonged to his times. On the outskirts of the dying Roman civilization, he spoke of dying in order to live. Today, when the human civilization is likewise dying his words have the same awe-inspiring relevance as they had then.

 

What Christ had to say was too simple to be grasped, too truthful to be believed. So the great majority of Christians have never been able to believe when Christ said that the whole duty of man resolved itself into loving God and our neighbour, he meant just that. It seems so simple, so obvious. And furthermore, there is the question of who is our neighbour. In Christ’s estimation, our neighbour is everyone, Hindu, Muslim, Sikh and even our enemies. He said: "Feed my sheep – all, black, white and piebald."


Courtesy: P.N. Benjamin,
Coordinator, Bangalore Initiative for Religious Dialogue (BIRD), e-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 
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