Easter fools

The Asian Age - - Oped - The writer is a pro­fes­sor of the­ol­ogy. He can be con­tacted at fragons@ gmail. com.

So, you thought you’d cru­cify me and keep me buried in the tomb, eh?” asks a ra­di­ant Je­sus in a WhatsApp mes­sage re­ceived re­cently. Je­sus’ punch­line is: “I’ve risen! April fools!” To­mor­row, Easter Sun­day and April Fools’ Day co­in­cide. This rare co­in­ci­dence oc­curred way back in 1956. At Easter, Je­sus’ crit­i­cis­ers and cru­ci­fiers ap­pear to be fools as he rises, re­splen­dent. The Easter Je­sus has the last laugh as life de­stroys death and good­ness crushes evil.

This past sea­son of Lent — when Chris­tians have been pre­par­ing for Easter 2018 — strangely saw Ash Wed­nes­day co­in­cid­ing with Valen­tine’s Day ( Fe­bru­ary 14). You may ask: How are prayer, penance, alms­giv­ing, cru­ci­fix­ion, death and res­ur­rec­tion linked to love and fool­ish­ness? Well, in­ti­mately; for, the loveli­est love is seem­ingly fool­ishly spent— un­ex­pect­edly, un­con­di­tion­ally, un­cal­cu­lat­edly— in lov­ing one’s beloved.

Apos­tle Paul said: “We preach Christ cru­ci­fied — an ob­sta­cle to Jews and fool­ish­ness to Greeks.” Jews dreaded cru­ci­fix­ion since only mur­der­ers and rebels against the Ro­mans were cru­ci­fied. The Book of Deuteron­omy says: “Cursed is the one who is hung on a tree;” for, the cru­ci­fied were nailed, naked, af­ter a back­break­ing beat­ing. Like­wise, Greeks held that god couldn’t suf­fer since god was “up there” in the high­est heav­ens, un­con­cerned about hu­man af­fairs. But, Chris­tians be­lieve that God is “down here” — suf­fer­ing with us — giv­ing suf­fer­ings mean­ing.

Don’t we ad­mire folks like Ma­hatma Gandhi and Mother Teresa who died daily, so to say, in or­der to en­rich the poor and em­power the weak? They some­times seemed fool­ish to many; for, who wants to in­con­ve­nience one­self and live for the wel­fare of oth­ers? Yet, their bound­less love made them per­form supreme sac­ri­fices. We now hon­our them as “Ma­hat­mas”.

To­day, Holy Satur­day, the silent day be­tween Je­sus’ cru­ci­fix­ion and res­ur­rec­tion, re­flect on the ap­par­ent “fool­ish­ness of love”.

Love is not a cheap com­mod­ity; it is ready to pay seem­ingly fool­ish prices for lov­ing. Yes, love is ready to even die so that the beloved may pros­per. Je­sus said, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” This is pre­cisely what he did.

Je­sus’ good news is sim­ple: ( a) God is fa­ther- mother of us all; ( b) We can all live as sis­ters, brothers, friends in a godgifted world; ( c) True hap­pi­ness lies in sac­ri­fic­ing our own con­ve­niences for the wel­fare of oth­ers. Those who op­posed this mes­sage crit­i­cised Je­sus, con­demned and cru­ci­fied him. Yet, truth can never be si­lenced. Je­sus lives.

Op­pos­ing sin, evil, ex­ploita­tion, cor­rup­tion and in­jus­tice might cause you to be cru­ci­fied. Fear not! Your ap­par­ent fool­ish­ness is true wis­dom. The cross in­evitably leads to an empty tomb. Satyameva jay­ate! Happy Easter to fool­ish lovers! God al­ways has the last laugh.

Fran­cis Gon­salves

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