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The many gifts of Easter

Easter is the life of God's Spirit within us — recognized, exercised, enjoyed in all abundance

The many gifts of Easter

Life and death are our deepest experiences. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Easter, like Christmas, is full of symbols — empty tombs with angels around, soldiers falling down helplessly, eggs, lilies, empty crosses on the Calvary hill. Why is this so?

Whenever we touch a truth too intense for words, we use symbols. We cry, we dance. We sing and chant. We paint and sculpt. Colors, sounds, touch, movement … these sensuous expressions convey our deepest feelings more powerfully than words do.

Life and death are our deepest experiences, and the last seven days of Holy Week have all been about them. Death — suffering, humiliation, betrayal, torture — Jesus has been through it all. All that we feel bitter and angry about, he has been there before.

But death is not the final word, life is.
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Life — being born, reborn, renewed, healed, made whole, given growth, given insight, given power, given abundance. This is what “life in the Spirit” is all about, this is what Easter is about. A life that doesn’t grow old, decrepit and extinct, but is everlasting, always there, surpassing our ability to express it entirely in words.

Easter is the life of God’s Spirit within us — recognized, exercised, enjoyed in all abundance. For all of us, it’s a new experience, a new kind of living, sharing in the resurrection of Jesus.

Easter is the conviction that this “life in the Spirit” is ours for the asking, ours for the taking. Once given at baptism, this Spirit is not taken back. Even if it lies dormant for years on end — like the ugly duckling who did not know it was a swan, or the barnyard chicken unaware it was really an eagle — once given, it is always there and can be actualized like a sudden power, transforming us out of all expectation.

This is the empowerment and sense of abundance that Easter brings.

The first gift of the Spirit is the absence of fear.

I once read an article on Mikhail Gorbachev and the collapse of the Soviet Union. It was titled “The man who taught Russia not to fear”. It is the Risen Jesus who really teaches us not to fear.

On Easter Sunday, the angel spoke to the women: “Do not be afraid.” Jesus said to his apostles: “Do not be afraid. It is I, not a ghost.”

“Do not be afraid.” This self-confidence comes to us because all our sins have been forgiven, and God holds nothing against us anymore. No demons from the past will ever haunt us again. Peace, harmony, integration and fulfilment are ours forever. The Risen Jesus teaches us not to fear.

And the second gift: enjoy the presence of the Spirit, enjoy the abundance of the Spirit’s gifts. Enjoy the charisms.

What is your special gift to society? That’s what a charism is.

Are you sent on a special mission, an apostle?

Are you a courageous witness to God’s place in your life, a martyr?

Do you guide others to grasp the deeper meaning of life, a teacher?

Are you outspoken on matters of justice, honesty, integrity, a prophet?

Are you a healing, comforting presence in pain and strife, a healer?

Do you never cease praising God, no matter what, the gift of tongues?

Have you experienced forgiveness in a deep way, the gift of tears?

Is your trust in God total and unshakable, the gift of faith?

We could go on and on, for the Christian experience is so varied, so deep.

Courage, peace, generosity, joy, self-restraint, endurance ... these are the fruits of the Spirit. This is the meaning of the Resurrection. This is what the Spirit is, a pledge of even greater things to come. These are the gifts of Easter, for now and always.

And our response comes in just one word: Alleluia! Praise the Lord!

Father Myron Pereira SJ is a media consultant based in Mumbai. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official editorial position of UCA News.

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