DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 12 April) — What kind of Easter message can I give in these difficult days? If one watches news on television, both national and international, and watches them not only with one’s eyes and mind but with one’s heart, one can easily be overwhelmed by this grim worldwide situation; it is as if, literally, death brought about by the Coronavirus pandemic is staring at you and me.
Easter, that is, our joyful celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus, is best understood by not forgetting Calvary, by not forgetting His death on the cross. He died for us when his hour had come; he faced death. He faced death consciously, willingly, with his heart filled with love for us, filled with the mercy of God for us. But then, Jesus rose from the dead; he is victorious over death. His victory over death he shares with you and me. This is Easter for me.
Yes, no doubt, we are in an extremely grim situation, but I see clear sparks of the spirit of Easter in the hearts of thousands in the midst of this pandemic. Indeed, it is so moving and so heartwarming to see individuals trying to save and protect the life of ailing patients, whose hearts are filled with selfless goodness for others, especially for the sick and the poor, individuals who have the courage to offer heroic service and sacrifice with the clear risk of losing their very own lives. Moreover, we see people of all walks of life, men and women, old and young, manifesting simple acts of appreciation and gratitude to all those who offer their lives so that others may live. Are these not concrete manifestations of the Easter spirit? Looking at all these, isn’t it that our hearts begin to fill up with hope?
Then I begin to believe that we, as Filipinos, together with all the peoples in the world, are bigger than the threat of the Coronavirus pandemic. Together, with hearts filled with goodness and love, filled with deep sense of service and sacrifice, I begin to see the hope of Easter in us, and this hope is stronger when we, together, have hearts like that of Jesus in his sacrifice in Calvary. We see that, together, our life is more powerful than the menace of death that this pandemic brings: together, with hearts inspired by God’s grace, with hearts inspired by the love of the Blessed Virgin Mother, who stood at the foot of the cross in Calvary. Together, seeing the countless acts of sacrifice and service, acts of kindness and compassion, we begin to see that the spirit of Easter is still very much alive in our hearts. This is a spirit which is born out of faith and conviction that Jesus has defeated death and has risen back to life – for all of us. It is a spirit that springs forth from both convictions, the conviction that the Lord truly and deeply loves us and the conviction that we are a people truly capable of loving and caring for each other in the worst of times.
We can still celebrate with profound thanksgiving in our hearts the solemn commemoration of the Resurrection of Jesus: the triumph of Jesus over death. This is the Easter that, I believe, we can celebrate together in these difficult days.
And because of this, with sincerity and deep conviction, I say, A BLESSED EASTER TO ALL! (Archbishop Romulo G. Valles, President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines is also Archbishop of Davao)