The words with which the Angel reassured the anxious and frightened hearts of the women on that first Easter morning are addressed to Christians of every age: “Do not be afraid! … He is not here; He is risen.” (Matthew 28:5-6)
From the risen Christ, all those who are burdened by the chains of suffering and death find hope, strength, peace, and freedom. The reality that Jesus is risen transformed the world forever and changed the history of humanity! In this secular society stained by the violence against the dignity of human life and the rejection of God’s transforming plan for humanity, the Church insistently invites us to live the wondrous event of the resurrection, for His resurrection becomes our resurrection.
In my recent mission trip to Slovakia, I had the opportunity to meet with some parliamentarians from the European Union. In our discussion we noted the tragic failure of Catholics and Christians within the EU and other legislative bodies to defend the absolute truth about life – that every life is precious and must be protected. Without the defense of this truth, society cannot hope to prosper. As Saint Paul VI proclaimed in Humanae vitae, “For man cannot attain that true happiness for which he yearns with all the strength of his spirit, unless he keeps the laws which the Most High God has engraved in his very nature. These laws must be wisely and lovingly observed.” (HV, n. 31)
The crisis of faith and acceptance of secularism as the answer to humanity’s problems has led us to this critical juncture. Catholics and Christians have lost their identity in the risen Christ. As one parliamentarian said to me, “The fundamental issue stifling the ability to defend life at its inviolable dignity at every stage is the failure of Christians.” We claim to be disciples of Christ, but our actions or failure to act only testify that we do not know Him. “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (John 14:15)
Our identity is found in Love – in the One who loved us first. If we lose our identity in proclaiming this absolute truth about life and its inalienable dignity, we are being dishonest to our very nature – for in baptism we have become a new creation in Christ Jesus.
And He is changing everything. When more of God is born in us, the transforming power of the Risen Christ is revealed. As the apostle to the gentiles powerfully expresses, “… yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me; insofar as I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who has loved me and given himself up for me.” (Galatians 2:20)
Do we give enough room to God in our lives? God’s power created life, created human beings. We cannot achieve the ultimate goals without Him, for He is the first cause witnessed in the acts of those who follow Him.
Jesus is the wandering preacher not knowing where He will lay His head. Jesus exhausts Himself for love – not for things. Modern technologies and ideologies attempt to change humanity, not just in biological ways. If we are not careful we, too will look at life and people through the prism of productivity– what a person does, not his innate dignity.
Freedom is only possible when the absolute dignity of every human person is defended– the unborn child as well — without exception. All of us are equal in dignity! All law must be directed toward the dignity of every human life. Political and legislative bodies must stop destroying human life. No one can take back a life that has been destroyed.
Like Jesus, we should look toward the “little ones”– the innocent, forgotten, the sick, and the marginalized. Jesus does not endorse indifference to the plight of the little ones as negotiable and neither should we! The concern for life belongs to each of us and in Christ, the Risen Lord, we must act upon this reality. His Gospel totally quenches the thirst for freedom, peace, and happiness that is found in every human heart.
Let us not be afraid to open our hearts to Him and in loving response to His love to also love our neighbor – seen and unseen.
Christ is alive and He walks with us. Do not be afraid!