We live in a time of villains and heroes, enemies and allies, patriots and traitors. Which is which depends on who we are and what we have decided about each other. Democrat, Republican, Israeli, Palestinian, Shiite, Sunni, Muslim, Christian, Jew, or any other combination. The name calling because of our differences rages on as do wars, killing, misery, animosity and division.
Easter reminds us there are also sinners and saints. Easter is why there are not only sinners. Jesus’ resurrection proclaims that the power of God’s love is stronger than the power of physical death and the death of sin. Easter announces that people and events can be redeemed. Sinners can become saints.
Real victory has nothing to do with winning elections, being the conqueror in battles or seizing more land. Real victory has to do with the capacity to find our best selves in the midst of good and evil. It is the recovery of our best selves that redeems the consequences of our worst actions or the actions of others. Jesus’ victory of life over death is an invitation to revive our capacity to pardon, to serve, to be generous, to be understanding, to soften our hearts.
The wonder of Easter redemption was powerfully told in The Chicago Sun Times years ago: “I don’t know what’s harder to fathom: The atrocities committed by the Nazis or a prayer found written on a piece of wrapping paper in Ravensbruck, the largest concentration camp for women in Nazi Germany. The prayer asks God to remember ‘not only the men and women of good will, but also those of ill will. But do not remember all the suffering they have inflicted on us. Remember the fruits borne of this suffering: the loyalty, the humility, the courage, the generosity, the greatness of heart which has grown out of this. And when they come to judgement, let all the fruits which we have borne be their forgiveness.’”
May goodness revived in each of us be Easter’s real victory.
A blessed Easter to all,
Very Rev. Christopher H. Smith, Rector