I took advantage of the schedule, silence, and serenity of my recent spiritual retreat to write these lines. Holy Week might be over, but this year I intentionally timed my retreat on this sacred moment, this venerable high point in the Catholic liturgical calendar.
I greet all of you: Happy Easter! Easter Sunday is of course the climax and the conclusion of every Holy Week. Right since we began it with Palm Sunday, we all know it all along somehow. It’s already there deep in our hearts: an eagerly anticipated celebration, already jumping ahead and going for the clincher — that Christ has indeed conquered sin, and has risen from the dead! (After all, there’s that useful dictum of the late management and leadership guru Steven Covey: “Begin with the end in mind.”)
There used to be a time when we would lament the Filipino way of celebrating this week’s liturgical services. We have full-packed, standing-room-only churches on Holy Thursday and Good Friday. People take pains to engage in devotional practices and traditions focusing on Christ’s Passion and Death (the Way of the Cross, the pabasa and the penitensiya). Come Easter Sunday, the general perception is that the Easter Vigil service and the Sunday Masses are not that well-attended, and there is a feeling of tiredness and exasperation after all the previous celebrations. Thank God that at least we have also the Salubong!
For sure, deep down inside us we know it’s the most important event of all mankind, all across history: the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. He indeed is our triumphant Lord, the Victor over sin and death. Year in, year out, we commemorate this greatest of all feasts without fail. And year after year too, we remind ourselves of this cornerstone truth of our Faith.
Regularly and constantly as well, we appropriate and claim for ourselves the timeless fruits of the salvation which God has wrought for us through His only begotten Son Jesus. We are thus renewed and rejuvenated by the never-failing merits of the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Christ.
Just a note about the photo above, accompanying this post. Yes, take a close look at it again. It is a work made up of wooden tiles and pieces, mounted on the concrete post near the entrance of Don Bosco Batulao, in Nasugbu, Batangas. It shows the risen Jesus bursting forth from the door of Hell, after his descent therein. Jesus is even depicted here with a youthful animé look, at that. Indeed we can joyfully cry out: Christ has defeated death! Mabuhay!
A Special Postscript —
Recently shown in a few Metro Manila theaters (it was short-lived, however) was a film entitled The Case for Christ. It’s no other than the movie adaptation of Lee Strobel’s bestselling book from 1998, an acknowledged work by an atheistic investigative journalist who eventually became a Christian apologist. Lee was interviewed recently regarding the question of whether apologetics is becoming irrelevant. This was his answer:
“Certainly we see a trend toward a postmodern mindset and ‘post-truth’ culture. But, having said that — I think that evangelism in the 21st century is spelled ‘apologetics.’ I think it is still relevant. . . . I think young people are interested, and I think it’s partially a reaction against the postmodern mindset. They are looking for something solid. They are looking for something to believe in.”
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Let’s connect this with our post last week, about Youth and the Post-Truth Era. You can never tell how and when the Risen Lord, ever alive and ever new, will still continue to pull up a surprise or two as it were. And then, of course, the other surprise is hopefully in today’s young people (especially Filipino Catholic youth): how for all their seeming jadedness and apathy, they can still erupt with a resounding message of Easter hope and joy. Let our young people indeed rally behind the Risen Lord!
Once again: Happy Easter to one and all!
MartYM or Fr. Martin Macasaet, SDB, SThD is a professor of Youth Ministry. He received his Doctorate in Sacred Theology from the Salesian Pontifical University in Rome.