On the first Easter morning, “early in the morning on the first day of the week,” the day began with deep sadness, mourning, fear and no small measure of bewilderment.
We hear about Mary Magdalene going to the tomb and the other disciples hiding out in fear. Then, at the empty tomb, followed a brief encounter with the risen Jesus. To this very day we can feel the spectrum of emotions shared by those who saw Jesus and those who immediately were told about the events at the empty tomb — unbridled joy, deep hope and utter amazement!
We are told that “on the evening of the first day of the week” Jesus appeared to the disciples with the message, “Peace be with you.” Humanity is forever changed and empowered to embrace paradox, ambiguity and the whole human condition of being beloved. Every Easter we remember, and we celebrate the love and new life that was revealed in Jesus the Christ.
As we prepare to celebrate Easter 2023, I am thinking about the capacity of Maryknoll Lay Missioners to be an “Easter people” — what does this mean when for too many people life seems to be a perpetual Good Friday?
Some of our missioners are like Simon, helping to carry the burdensome crosses of young people living with disabilities in Cambodia, Tanzania and Bolivia; others weep as they accompany traumatized migrants at the Mexico-U.S. border or internally displaced individuals in several countries; still others, in Kenya, Tanzania and El Salvador, labor to provide opportunities for education and other basic needs like food and healthcare for vulnerable communities; and in Haiti our missioners experience the uncertainty of a people who suffer from environmental, structural and social upheaval.
The same human capacity to know fear and sadness in the morning but to be able to know joyful hope and deep peace by evening is within each one of us. As is the capacity to hold the pain and suffering of marginalized people, even while the strength rises from within for great love and belief in the promise of Jesus that he is with us always and that abundant life indeed has the last word.
Maryknoll lay missioners proclaim by their lives the reality of Easter morning and Easter evening.
Together with all people of good will and emboldened by the risen Christ, Maryknoll Lay Missioners commits to service and solidarity, responsible interdependence with all creation, intentional and antiracist transformation of structures, and active nonviolence in our relationships.
The place and time for action is everywhere and now, and in the words of Pope Francis, “we have to see clearly, choose well and act right. Let’s talk about how. Let us dare to dream.” We shall need the reinforcements refined during Lent, prayer and individual and communal reflection, as we listen to the signs of the times and for the whisperings within our own evolving changes at Maryknoll.
May our actions and reflections in the Easter season be guided by the risen Lord!