I like Good Friday better than Easter. No matter where I am, the Easter liturgy always seems a bit forced, the joy just a tad superficial, unreal. Perhaps the problem lies in me.
But I realized recently that my difficulty with Easter may be a reflection of a problem in our society as a whole.
Easter joy, the kind of joy that astounds, the kind of joy that gives the feeling of being in shock, where is this kind of joy? A person of Easter joy knows what it means to inhabit the earth while at the same time feeling a heavenly bliss that cannot contain itself, or a deep peace that bubbles over even in the midst of great pain. Perhaps this kind of joy is the thing missing in a world drenched in irony, sarcasm, and nasty witticisms.
Ours is a world full of sadness that masquerades as satisfaction. It underlies much of what people say and do. Our sadness can be found particularly in the hatred and disdain we feel for others who think differently than we do. This sadness that masquerades as derisive self assurance is born from our inability to believe in mystery. After all, how can we put ourselves in another person’s shoes if we need to see things neatly, all according to our limited worldview?
We caress our self doubt with the false reassurance that others think the same way – but it was crowds of people who shouted “Crucify him, crucify him!” Was it out of vindictiveness or sadness that they shouted these words? I think perhaps it was sadness, the same sadness of our world, a sadness of a life without mystery, without Easter joy.
If we cannot understand another, we do not have Easter joy, a joy that respects the mystery of God in each human being, a joy that knows that this world, no matter how attacked by evil, chaos and suffering, has been conquered, but not by a king who rallies troops, hates his enemies and smashes his rivals with an iron fist of power. No. People of Easter joy serve a king who conquered this world by accepting its suffering, its brutality, knowing that in the end nothing was greater than his Love.
Does this mean we should submit to the evil of the world? Should we stop working for justice, peace and a society that respects the dignity of every human being despite how unpractical or strange it may sound to the sad, distrustful ears of the world?
We carry our king’s standard no matter how unpopular or difficult it will become. But we are called to carry his standard with a serenity and joy that comes from knowing this battle has already been won.
If we dare to carry his standard in any other way, we run the risk of switching sides without even knowing it.
So, gathering behind our risen king, let us become people of Easter joy.