Reflections on Easter Sunday
By Father Bernard O`Connor
The recent events of our troubled world remind us of certain eternal truths: there is evil; it should not exist; there is something we can do about it.
It is not always easy to keep these truths in clear focus. Lying about reality has become one of our grandest pastimes, even as we introduce more and more "reality tv."
For at least forty years, we have been lax in our recognition of the first of these great truths. The appearance of a truly global consciousness has flooded our minds with the multiplicity of differences that exist within the world. Our fascination with these differences has created an entire culture centered upon diversity. Diversity is a great good. The ability to encounter peoples of every way of life, to explore the understandings behind their actions, and to appreciate their unique insights into the meanings of life are all wonderful opportunities presented to us today by the telecommunications revolution.
Unfortunately many people accept the Nietzschean idea that this plethora of differences requires us to go "beyond good and evil." They argue that it is not possible to judge the moral character of the actions of other people. This is not true. In fact, Nietzsche's idea is simply lazy, not wise. It is very easy to assume that because there are so many differences in the world, we can't tell good from evil. But it is precisely our ability to differentiate between good and evil that makes us human and creates the possibility of a human culture. While people are different all over the world, they are also the same. If this were not true, we wouldn't call them all "human beings." So there must be some unity principles in the midst of all this diversity. One of these unity principles is the existence of universal evil.
One of the central insights of the Judea-Christian tradition is that evil is not supposed to be in the world. This is brilliantly presented in the creation stories of the Bible. The world was created by an all-knowing and all-powerful God, out of love. This God declared that each work was good, and that the pinnacle of the creative act, the human person, was very good. There is no evil "in the beginning." This is a truth that all humans have come to accept. People just know that certain things are not supposed to be a part of the human condition. While evil has many forms, people know that young children are not supposed to die, women are not to be raped, wealth is not to be hoarded, persons are to be treated with dignity. We know that the world does not work the way it should. There is something radically wrong with it.
There is evil. It is not supposed to be here. This is true on a global scale, on a national scale, on a community scale, on a family scale, and on an individual scale. And now we get to the heart of the matter. There is something that can be done about it. Evil begins in the human heart. Each human being has some degree of power over the human heart. But the real powers that nurture the human spirit transcend that individual. Only a God can alter the terrain of the human heart. A community of believers can help prepare the ground. They can help pull up some of the weeds. But only divine powers of love can renew the land. There is no real "neutrality" in the grand human adventure. A human heart is either responding in love to a gracious God or is fleeing in hatred and despair. The transformation of an evil-doer into a good-doer is very mysterious activity. It is a dialogue between a human heart that is open to the Divine and the Divine who pours transforming love into the soul.
The Christian tradition is blessed because we know that we have this kind of a God. The Resurrection of the Lord is a moment of glory. Jesus not only overcomes the powers of evil but makes that saving grace available to ordinary human beings in their struggle. Jesus accepts the presence of evil in the world, declares that it is not integral to the world, and overcomes its powers in the triumphant transformation of the ignominy of the cross to the glory of the Resurrection.
There is something that we human beings can do about the evil in the world. We can begin with our own conversions from the evil that we endorse each and every day. We can then join with others to bring this transforming love into the lives of our families. Families of renewal can bring this grace to their communities. Communities can affect nations, and nations can renew the world. At each stage of the struggle, the mysterious powers of the Resurrection are at play. We used to call this great struggle "religious life." The great religious communities were simply people committed to engaging the loving God at this level of transformation. Let us pray that this Easter will be a time of spiritual renewal for all the peoples of the earth. May it also be a rebirth of the power for good that authentic religion brings to our weary world.
By Father Bernard O'Connor, President of DeSales University
Press Release: Reflections on Easter Sunday by Rev. Bernard O'Connor, OSFS | Posted on: 4/14/2003
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