Easter Letter from Fr. Rex Pillai
Dear Saint Clement Parish family,
Today is Easter Sunday. Today we rejoice in a God who refuses to let death have the last word by raising Jesus from death to life. When we celebrate Easter as the most important feast of our faith we exult in a God who takes death head on and destroys its finality with the power of his own love. Today we celebrate a God who refuses to leave the dead forever dead. God’s undying love for Jesus sweeps death aside as he claims his loving Son again. However, Easter this year for us and for our world takes on a different meaning and, in a way, greater significance. We celebrate Easter in the midst of sickness and death that has engulfed our world. There is anxiety, anguish and uncertainty all around us. We need to be content having to watch Easter Sunday Mass on television or on our computer. As many have pointed out, these are challenging times indeed, and Easter 2020 will be a very different Easter celebrated against the backdrop of sickness and death, one we will remember for a long time.
Think of that very first Easter. For the disciples of Jesus and his friends the period between the first Good Friday and first Easter Sunday must have felt much longer than three days. Doubts about their lives and the world, fear of sickness and death, preoccupation with the challenges of their own lives and future, much like what we are experiencing at the moment.
The message of Easter was first communicated to the disciples by the empty tomb. But what does this empty tomb mean? No one really saw the Resurrection. The first witnesses who realized that something had happened were the women who went to the tomb. And what they saw was not Jesus but his empty tomb. Peter and the beloved disciple find no body in the empty tomb as reported. Peter sees the absence of a body. But the other disciple sees with the eyes of the one who loves and he sees a void filled with presence of the Risen Christ. The truth that Good Friday teaches us is that every one of us, even the Son of God must die. It teaches us that without Jesus our lives are empty and our world is lost. Easter teaches us the same lesson it taught Mary Magdalene, Peter and John: Jesus is alive; he is with us. We can turn to him in our doubts and fears. The truth that God raised Jesus from the dead gives us hope and life in the midst of uncertainty, anxiety and fear. We can all catch moments of resurrection when we experience new life in the midst of despair and even death. We see it in hospital wards in the faces of doctors and nurses, first responders and many others who work tirelessly.
The Jesuit poet Gerard Manly Hopkins wrote a poem called “The wreck of the Deutschland” which he dedicated to a group of nuns who died on December 8, 1875 when their German ship sank in the North Sea, off the English coast. The five nuns were among the 157 who died on that day. Hopkins saw in their deaths a parallel to the suffering and death of Christ. Hopkins uses “Easter” as a verb; as a nautical term. To "Easter" means to steer a craft eastward into the light. So he uses Easter as a verb – not just the name of what we celebrate today, not just the new life the Risen Christ brings each one of us, but Easter as something we THINK, something we FEEL, something we DO. “Let the Risen Christ Easter in us, that we may live in the light of his compassion, peace, justice and forgiveness. Let the Risen Christ Easter in us and may he be a dayspring to the dimness of us."
Wishing you and your loved ones a Blessed Easter. May we be witnesses to the power of New Life in the Risen Christ.
-Fr. Rex Pillai, Administrator
Please help us as we continue to provide a multitude of opportunities to experience the newness of life the Risen Christ offers through our ministries. Your generosity that sustains our many ministries at Saint Clement Parish is truly appreciated. Click here to make an Easter donation today.