Dear Friends in Christ,
Jesus rose from the dead on the first day of the week because the scripture says: "he must rise from the dead" (Jn 20:9). Mary Magdalene, Simon Peter, and John, the beloved disciple, saw an empty tomb and only later came to believe that Jesus has risen. If we look at what happened to the disciples of Jesus from another perspective, we will see that Easter Sunday was not necessarily and initially a happy day for them. They were devastated that the Pharisees and Scribes crucified their Lord. They lived in hiding and in fear of these enemies who were after the followers of Jesus. Now they found an empty tomb that did not initially translate to them as a sign of Resurrection. On this Easter morning at the empty tomb, the disciples were in a state of mourning and sadness. At first, Easter morning was not a happy one for the disciples until the Risen Lord appeared to them later. We do feel the same way the disciple felt. The darkness that is the devastation of coronavirus pandemic seems to snuff off the light of Easter joy.
This year's Easter is different from what we are used to. Our churches are empty. We are not physically present in church singing Alleluias at Mass, rejoicing that Jesus has risen. Like the empty tomb, our empty Church does not immediately turn to a piece of joyful news. Yet we are joyful and celebrate the Risen Christ because the event of the Resurrection transcends all the dysfunction that currently marks our world and our regular church life. We have been dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic all through lent. The empty tomb tells us that Jesus has risen over death and sin. The Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ is a real and historical fact. His body is indeed risen and united to his soul; this is an authentic experience. But we need more than the historical truth and real knowledge; we need faith to experience the reality of the Resurrection of Jesus.
I invite you to that living faith. Despite our empty Church, despite the shadow cast on our worship by coronavirus pandemic, we are above all a people of transcendence faith. Our faith bears testimony to the reality of the Resurrection, the joy of Easter. My dear friends, Jesus has risen indeed, let us rejoice and be glad in this day. This Easter Sunday is the day the Lord has made for us to testify to the world that our faith in Risen Christ is higher than the scourge of coronavirus. Let us break into joyful song and dance. Let us bear witness to risen Christ as we share His love, hope, and saving grace with all people in our lives. Let us offer to all people the good news from the empty tomb and empty Church that Jesus is indeed victorious over all the anomalies of our life as we live it presently.
Let the world know that despite deaths and fear, Jesus reigns supreme. He has conquered death and sin. He will overcome the darkness of the Coronavirus pandemic. "This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad" (Psalm 118:1).
Fr. Bernard Oniwe, O.P.