Easter and All of Us
Gabriel C Banda
OF COURSE, there are differences and disputes over understanding and interpretation of the story associated with events of some two thousand years ago. There are questions even about remembering Easter itself. There are questions about observing the season in our times.
But the key issues over the story and events of the crucifixion of Jesus are not only of those of thousands of years ago. The key issues and lessons at play were there thousands of years ago and are still there in March 2016. The key issues and experiences are living with us, right now. The experiences of the past continue in us. And the lessons of the past continue in us.
The key lessons of the story of the crucifixion of Jesus are not restricted to Christian and allied faiths.
Each one of us encounters seasons of Easter. At various times, we have passed through crucifixion and risen. The encounters may afterwards appear minor and insignificant but the lessons and experiences are important for our growth as we go on to meet other challenges.
Two thousand years ago, Jesus was working for the Common Good, living and teaching by example the journey of Goodwill. As in our times, there were forces that act against the journey of Goodwill. Jesus Christ’s story of trials, crucifixion, and resurrection shows that it is possible to overcome huge challenges.
The focus of the events of Jesus Christ is not death, but life and living. The agents of evil tried to kill Jesus Christ in order to derail the journey of Goodwill. They killed Jesus’ body but Jesus did not die. They killed Jesus but Jesus overcame and ascended.
Christ was not defeated. Christ conquered the derailing forces thrown at him. Christ overcame. Christ rose above, Christ ascended.
Thus the key lessons of Easter are not just about celebrating the personal victory of Jesus Christ, but realising the strength in us to overcome huge challenges.
Our Easters of trial and triumph may come through our physical, emotional, or social situations. There may be challenges of our ill-health, ill-health or death of those near us, changes in relationships, and pressures of finances for basic needs like shelter, food, education, and health services.
There are crucifixions and Easter Seasons with us, many times. As in the story of Jesus Christ, there are forces and agents of betrayal, rebellion, mercenary, sellers of fellow human beings, and executioners.
From many angles and situations, we are tackled. But the agents of evil are not powerful, for if it were so, they would have finally conquered and the world would have ceased or been greatly altered into the final image of evil.
We sometimes forget that Good overcomes evil. Good has power with it. Evil may be a force but is not a power. There is only one Power, and that Power is with Good. The Power is Life. Life is Power.
The Easter season reminds us that we have strength in us to overcome various challenges. In various aspects of our journey in favour of Goodwill, we are tackled. Envy, hatred, hostility, fear, coveting for what another person has make persons act against other persons, including those who are actively working for the good of the whole society.
Of course, we must be careful and realise that there are some challenges that are not negative attacks in themselves. Sometimes our attitudes consider attacks some things which are not against us but must just be effectively dealt with and settled.
In our relationships and various situations, we are tackled by challenges. Some, for various seasons, are deliberately set up by other persons. Some will engage in derailing our journey. There will be mercenaries who will kill or destroy for the one that pays them.
There will be deception, diversion, lies, deceit, negative scheming, false witnessing, betrayal, violence, attempts at execution, and, as in the story of Jesus Christ and Judas Iscariot’s twenty pieces of silver, selling of human beings for personal profit. In their efforts, there is exaltation of the wicked and suppression of the Good.
Still, others who support you will be limited in what they can do to prevent harm to you and your path. They are with you but have limits. At the same time it is easy in pain to forget that those persons and situations supporting you and have the capacities to help you overcome actually do exist.
The arena of our Easter Season may be in the work place. It may be at school. It may be in some other group. It may be in your regular community. Or it may be someone you have just come across today. But there will be those that will act against persons working for Goodwill. They are far and are also near us.
What is often unexpected is that the workers of inequity and evil do exist within families. A husband, wife, or partner may continuously work to derail your harmony and advance and prevent the achievement of Goodwill and peace. Some persons may start off well but later begin to work in the interest of evil.
It is much easier to accept the existence of an enemy outside than recognise the enemy within. One begins to observe a brother or sister who goes out of their way to block another family member from achieving a good thing.
In scriptures, there was the story of Cain and Abel, where envy led to the murdering of a brother. In scriptures too, young Joseph was sold by his Brothers. Yes, many times a prophet is not only not recognised but also attacked by their own family members.
There are also times when a son, daughter, or nephew and niece, will work towards destroying the parent. One of the reasons is so that they may inherit what the parent has. Sometimes it is driven by envy of the achievements the parent is making.
Also, rarely, there are cases where a parent wants to destroy a son or daughter. It is important to accept that these things and situations do happen and then do something about them so that you are not harmed.
There are also some situations found in organisations and movements. Churches and religious organisation are amongst them. One of the safest places to hide in when a person is on the run from security forces is a police camp. Similarly, one of the most secure places for agents of evil to hide is being a member of a church or religious institution.
A religious organisation can provide cover and safety for some who do evil to others. As in families, people are more tolerant, than they should be, of evil that is coming from a member or official of their church. Some members and officials of religious groups have multiple personalities that create problems for other members, the group, and society. Some have spirits of rebellion and often try to take over from those better able and be rulers.
In politics and government, things shift, friends may become opponents and opponents may replace friends. The factors of scheming, betrayal, lies, and assassination of character or body are present. Across states, as it happened in Iraq and Libya, neighbours and former friends may wage war to destroy other rulers.
Of course, evil also recruits, trains, and ordains its agents, who in turn infiltrate various groupings and situations. Over generations, through its continuous training programmes, evil multiplies its agents and tackles many persons and situations. There are many workers of inequity and promoters of want and disharmony.
But those who do not fear evil or yield to its influences and threats will not be overcome. Instead, they will overcome.
Overcoming death seems the ultimate example to show the power of Life, Life which is itself Power.
In Jesus’ life, only God was Power. Evil had no real power and authority over Jesus Christ. Forces will attack but, he demonstrated, there is only one Power, which is Life itself. Life faithful. Life eternal, life triumphant at all times. Life Truthful. Truth has Power with it. Power is Truth.
Instead of fighting attackers with brute force, the principled calm, non-violent, non-aggressive, non-hating, and fearless approach of Jesus was more effective in improving things and achieving Good. This was not a tooth for a tooth but using the power of Love. There is some point at which evil will yield and stand back rather than let itself be destroyed by the Power of Good.
Unlike the defeated and overcome Christ expressed on some carved crucifixes and prayer rosaries, Christ was not defeated but triumphed. Christ overcame. Christ triumphed.
As in immunisation or vaccination, after the experience, because of the strength within us, we have healed and become stronger. But that does not mean that it is good for people to do evil to others.
Sometimes we forget that we have been strong before and have achieved before and can overcome our current challenges. A challenge is to make our lessons become our practice and continue to effectively survive various things being thrown at us as we travel and work on the journey of Life. This is the journey of Goodwill.
Jesus Christ showed that it is possible to rise above harsh challenges and emerge triumphant in our Easter Seasons. Evil actions against us may shake us but should not destroy us, should not overcome us.
In each Easter Season we experience throughout the year, we must find the strength within us and grow stronger.
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– GCB, March 2016, Lusaka.