Easter is one of the most significant celebrations of the year for Christians as we commemorate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. This year will be very different from anything that we have experienced in the past because of Covid-19. We will not be able to gather in our churches to celebrate as a worshiping community. Traditional gatherings with family and friends will not be happening this year. This is extremely unfortunate; however, the sacrifices we make today will benefit many people tomorrow and for weeks to come. We will help to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
We see in Jesus how the sacrifice of one was able to benefit many. Jesus offered his life on the cross in order to save humanity from sin and offer salvation, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life” (John 3:16).
In my own faith tradition, the marriage rite contains these significant words addressed to the bride and groom, “Sacrifice is usually difficult and irksome. Only love can make it easy, and perfect love can make it a joy. We are willing to give in proportion as we love. And when love is perfect, the sacrifice is complete.” This is seen so clearly in what Jesus did for us. We are called to do the same for one another, especially during these difficult times.
Christians know that Jesus not only died, but he also rose from the dead. This fact gives us hope because we see how God was able to bring about good from the bad. If Jesus had not suffered, he could not have triumphed over sin and death by his resurrection. The good is found in the gift of eternal life that has been offered to us.
In the Gospel of Mark we find the account of Jesus calming the storm. The apostles are in a boat during a great windstorm and they are terrified. Jesus was asleep in the stern and they cried out to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” Jesus wakes up, rebukes the wind and then rebukes the apostles. He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?” (Mark 4:35-41)
The words of Jesus are significant as we face the current storm that is encompassing the world. The coronavirus pandemic is causing fear and anxiety in the hearts of a great number of people. Some may even think that God does not care that so many are perishing. Jesus would say the same thing and encourages us to not be afraid and to have faith.
Despite the storm, we still see many examples of goodness and light that have a calming effect. For example, I have heard many people say that staying home is not easy; however, being with family is a good thing. Families are spending time with their children and doing many things together.
People find that they have more time to think, to reflect and to walk outside contemplating the beauty of nature. Many people have commented that when passing someone on the street (practising physical distancing) there is a smile and greeting that has not always happened in the past.
One of the most profound examples of seeing the goodness of God can be found in the countless individuals who are making personal sacrifices by serving our community, especially the sick in our hospitals and long-term care facilities.
These few examples help us to understand the Easter message. In the midst of suffering and death, there is life and goodness. Jesus has risen, Alleluia!
Most Reverend Gerard Bergie, D.D.
Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of St. Catharines