There is Easter Hope for SA
During Lent I started reading Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium. One line caught my attention: There are Christians whose lives seem like Lent without Easter.
But does anything in our interior disposition change that says to others that we have entered wholeheartedly into this Easter season of joy and celebration?
Lent is about reflecting on our human brokenness. Easter is about celebrating our healing through Christ’s resurrection. Lent is about lamentation. Easter is about praise. Lent focuses on the past. Easter looks forward to the future.
So then, do we look at our country through the prism of Lent or in the light of Easter?
Too often, we spend many hours complaining about everything that has gone wrong in our country and there is no denying that many of the things we hoped for in 1994 have not come to fruition.
I’m not saying that we should keep quiet about these things. On the contrary, it is our duty as Christians to speak out against injustice and oppression of any kind. But perhaps in our lamentations, we forget the great good we have achieved.
Twenty years ago the freedoms we have today were restricted to a small minority. Today there’s no restriction of movement.
Who would have imagined in 1990 that people of all races, all cultures, would be flocking to the FNB stadium in Soweto for a football match with the world watching us, uniting us even if for a brief moment under one flag and one identity?
These victories take on a far greater meaning in the light of Resurrection. This was possible because South Africans of all religions, all races and all walks of life spent decades on their knees praying to God for the miracle of a new dawn. And it happened.
And we know that this was a gift from God. My favourite liturgical text says so: The sanctifying power of this night dispels wickedness, washes faults away, restores innocence to the fallen, and joy to mourners, drives out hatred, fosters concord, and brings down the mighty (Easter Proclamation sung at the Easter Vigil).
As we celebrate our 20th Freedom Day this weekend and look forward to the elections in less than two weeks, will we hide behind the fruitless criticism and cynicism that express a certain hopelessness for a better future? Or do we shine out as people of the Light, people of the Resurrection, people of Hope?
The future of this beloved land does not lie in the hands of a few politicians who can decide our fate on a whim. This future we longed for 20 years ago lies in each of our hands. It lies in our vote. It lies in our responsibility to speak truth to power. It lies in our actions and our words, no matter how insignificant and unnoticed, towards one another, irrespective of what is happening in the political fabric of the country. Above all it lies in our commitment to once again join hands and pray for a better way.
At the conclusion of Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis reminds us that it is through our joy and the Easter light of Resurrection that we carry within us, that we can truly be missionaries of change in our world today:
Some people do not commit themselves to mission because they think that nothing will change and that it is useless to make the effort. If we think that things are not going to change, we need to recall that Jesus Christ has triumphed over sin and death and is now almighty. Jesus Christ truly lives.
We are invited to discover this, to experience it. Christ, risen and glorified, is the wellspring of our hope, and he will not deprive us of the help we need to carry out the mission which he has entrusted to us.