What a strange Easter Sunday! The churches are silent. Even Easter Sunday parties have given way to sombre reflection, as we sit alone in our houses with few family members or none at all.
We may try to cheer ourselves up with Easter Sunday lunch, but even if we have laid out on our table, the roasted lamb, Easter cakes and cookies, and a fine bottle of Pauillac, it’s just not the same without the Easter Sunday Mass to precede our festivities.
It seems as if Our Lord has disappeared and left us alone. Yet that isn’t so. He is here. He never left us. It is us who have deserted Him so many times. Perhaps Our Lord is asking more from us this Easter, more than just participating in Easter egg hunts. He wants us to sit down in a quiet place and reflect, to meditate upon the Resurrection. We have the Octave of Easter to do just that. Eight days of praying, meditating in a quiet place, and doing a lot of spiritual reading. Eight days to understand and know deep in our bones that without the Cross, there cannot be a Resurrection and unless we deny ourselves, take up our crosses daily and follow Him, we will not be resurrected.
It is a time to rejoice, yet, it’s hard to do when so many people are suffering, not just the loss of loved ones, but the loss of livelihoods, businesses, opportunities, dreams. Think about poor people who live on day wages – the Thai tuktuk driver, the Mexican day labourer, the American Uber driver, the Italian cleaning lady, the Filipino jeepney driver. All of us are united by our suffering.
To those who harbour hatred against the Chinese people, I have this to say: pray for the Chinese people. Pray for the soul of the late Chinese doctor, Dr. Li Wenliang, who at grave risk to his livelihood, tried to alert the authorities about the spread of the virus, and at the risk of his life, continued to serve his patients unto death. I cannot think about Dr. Li without tears coming to my eyes. I pray for him all the time and for people like him. May the Lord have mercy on Dr. Li and grant him a wonderful place in heaven. That is what Christian charity is: giving up you life for other people. Remember what Saint Paul said. It goes something like this: you can have all the knowledge in the world about Christian dogma and follow all of the duties of our religion, but if you have no charity, you have no place next to Our Lord in heaven.
You think you’re better than Dr. Li? You think you have the right to curse the entire nation of China, including its doctors, nurses and healthcare workers who have died serving their patients? Think about Dr. Li’s parents. He’s probably an only child. If his parents are alive, what are they going through? Is your heart so hard that you cannot weep for them? Our Lord always had such a soft heart for widows and parents of children who died. Many of his miracles involved raising their children from the dead.
I hear all kinds of nonsense from people who call themselves devout Catholics, but who are filled with hatred in their hearts against the Chinese, inciting people to hate them. Instead pray for the Chinese people that God may deliver them from the CCP. This Easter, look into your hearts and root out all hatred. Stop blaming other people. If the corona virus is indeed a chastisement from God, it’s because of OUR sinful lives that we are being chastised. Yes, OUR sinful lives, my dear Christian people. Look into the mirror first before you point the finger at other people. If you fail at that, then the entire Lent, despite all your fasting and praying and meditating, has been a total waste.
It is a time to pray for those who are suffering the most and to ask Our Lord for mercy, to end the corona virus pandemic. It is time to reform our own lives. Pray the Rosary. Pray the Divine Office. Spend time in meditation. Do spiritual reading (see my recommended list of books).
Here is a lovely Easter poem by George Herbert (who was a Welsh-born poet in the 17th century and a priest in the Church of England).
Easter Wings by George Herbert
Lord, who createdst man in wealth and store,
Though foolishly he lost the same,
Decaying more and more,
Till he became
O let me rise
As larks, harmoniously,
And sing this day thy victories:
Then shall the fall further the flight in me.
My tender age in sorrow did beginne
And still with sicknesses and shame.
Thou didst so punish sinne,
That I became
Let me combine,
And feel thy victorie:
For, if I imp my wing on thine,
Affliction shall advance the flight in me.
Check out this Resurrection painting (part of a triptych) by Peter Paul Rubens. It’s one of my favourites. Here’s Our Lord, muscular and healthy, showing no signs of having been tortured and crucified, like He just finished training at Gold’s Gym, stomping on the silly soldiers who think that a piece of rock was going to stop Him from leaping out of the tomb.