Easter: A season of hope and promise

IT’S a brand new day! For me, this greeting sums up the message of Easter, not only because we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, but also because we rejoice in the fact that there is always hope for each one of us amidst our personal and global struggles. If we don’t have hope, we will perish.

Hope is what led Mary Magdalene to run to the disciples to let them know that Jesus was not in the tomb. Hope is what made the disciples run as fast as they could to look inside the tomb and to realize what Jesus said was true: on the third day he would rise again. Hope is what propelled Mary and the disciples to go out to the whole world and proclaim the Good News of salvation in Jesus Christ.

We have reason to hope and to hold onto God’s promise of new life, not only in the heavenly life, but also in our earthly life.

There is hope for all of us as we struggle to live in this world. It can be hope for a good education or a better job to lift up one’s family from poverty. It can be hope for a recovery from sickness and another chance to live a healthy life. It can be hope for a happy retirement, for a renewal of friendship, or for forgiveness and reconciliation in one’s family.

There is hope for a country that suffers from corruption, greed, and violence. There is hope for a drug addict or a drug pusher. There is hope for a president of a nation to change his leadership and political perspectives. There is hope for the poor and the rich, the simple-minded and the educated to help one another to bring progress to their country. There is hope for the church and the government to work together to keep unity and peace in the nation.  There is hope for the international community to eradicate violence, terrorism, and racism in the world.

Without hope, we would dwell in the darkness of pessimism, negativism, and fatalism. We’ll keep blaming and accusing each other of our problems. We’ll live in the myth that there is no possibility to change because of the dictates of culture, genes, family upbringings, religious beliefs, worldviews, and mental attitudes.

As long as we hope, we will find solutions to economic and political problems, remedies to illnesses, reconciliation in relationships, and growth in ourselves.

In this Easter Sunday’s Second Reading (Col: 3-1-4),  St. Paul tells us to hope in Jesus Christ: “If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Think of what is above, not of what is on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ your life appears, then you too will appear with him in glory.”

Dennis Hamm, SJ interprets St. Paul’s words not as a kind of withdrawal from ordinary life, but as an active and positive engagement in it.

He explains: “As we read on in this letter, however, it becomes clear that he is very much thinking of ordinary life. He says that the negative stuff we all deal with—anger, lust, greed, deception—must be addressed with the healing power of the new life we have in Christ. The resurrection of Jesus enables us to let God reign in our ordinary lives in ways that demonstrate we are part of a new creation—not complete, but that kingdom is evident wherever communities allow the spirit of the risen Lord to have its way.”

Indeed, we have reason to hope and to believe in God’s promise of new life, as a long as we invite the risen Christ to transform our hearts, minds, and souls.

Let this Easter be for each of us a new beginning filled with new opportunities and new encounters. Let it speak to us of freshness of a new life, of a brand new day!

Happy Easter to all!

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From a Filipino immigrant family, Reverend Rodel G. Balagtas was ordained to the priesthood from St. John’s Seminary in 1991. He served as Associate Pastor at St. Augustine, Culver City (1991-1993); St. Martha, Valinda (1993-1999); and St. Joseph the Worker, Canoga Park (1999-2001). In 2001, he served as Administrator Pro Tem of St. John Neumann in Santa Maria, CA, until his appointment as pastor of ImmAaculate Heart of Mary, Los Angeles, in 2002, which lasted 12 years. His term as Associate Director of Pastoral Field Education at St. John’s Seminary began in July 2014.

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