Easter Reflection by Fr. Brennan

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When I was coming close to being ordained a priest, one of the things I had to organise was the prayer card to be given out as a memento of my ordination. For the image on the prayer card, I chose the image below and, as you can see, it is an image of The Resurrection in icon form. On this, my second Easter as a priest (and first as CYM chaplain), I thought I’d share a few thoughts on what the Resurrection and Easter have meant for me particularly on my 18 month anniversary as a priest which happens to be the day that I finish writing this article/reflection.

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The image I chose for my ordination prayer card is a modern rendering of a classic subject in icons and that is the Risen Christ breaking down the doors of hell, breaking the power of sin and rising triumphant in overcoming death. At the bottom are the doors of hell which Christ breaks under his feet and locks and chains can be seen symbolising how sin locks and chains us in enslavement. Over these, Christ grasps the hands of Adam and Eve and he lifts them out of the tombs. Adam and Eve are reaching out for Christ as much as Christ is lifting them out.

In many ways, this image represents what The Resurrection is about, that Easter is something that happens every day and how the Risen Christ is still active in our world today:

  • It is about Christ being victorious over death seen in Christ breaking through the doors of death that shut Adam and Eve in and giving them new life. The Resurrection gives us hope for ourselves and for those who have died that death is no barrier to Christ who is able to descend into death and conquer it with life. Christ is also there in our moments when we experience loss, hopelessness and sadness and holds out His hand to offer us peace, joy and hope.
  • It is about Christ being victorious over sin seen in Christ holding the hands of Adam and Eve and bringing them closer to Him. Sin leads to us being separated from God but Christ not only draws them up and out of the tombs but also towards Himself re-establishing the relationship with God broken through sin. The love of God is stronger than any sin and so, with Adam and Eve reaching out for Christ, Christ brings them into closer relationship with God. This happens every time in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
  • It is about Christ being victorious over evil seen in Christ standing over the darkness and powers of evil which Adam and Eve have found themselves in and bringing them the light of His Presence. The hope that the Resurrection gives means that we can keep hope alive even in the darkest, harshest and most difficult moments of life and it is only with Christ that any darkness and any evil can be overcome.

The Resurrection is not just about something that happened “once upon a time” or just in the past or far into the future; the Resurrection is not something that only just happened once or will happen sometime but is happening right now in our own time. In my short time as a priest, I’ve already seen it in:

  • Patients faced with the prospect of suffering, illness and death able to overcome fear and be able to face suffering and death with heroic peace and acceptance in a remarkable short period of time.
  • Penitents who have come to the Sacrament of Reconciliation receiving deep consolation and coming to a profound conversion.
  • People in situations where they have lost hope and been able to both regain hope and have their hopes exceeded.

There are other examples I could go into where I have seen that:

  • Life defeats death
  • Faith conquers cynicism
  • Light beats darkness
  • Hope overcomes despair
  • Grace wins out over sin
  • Love defeats hate

It is because of the Resurrection, because of Easter, that these are not just merely nice, wishful slogans: they are realities.

Amid the darkness, evil and sin in our own lives and in the world, there is no guarantee except for the Resurrection of the ultimate power of life, light and love.

That is why we need to not only believe but proclaim the Resurrection everywhere not only with our words but with the witness and testimony of our lives: Christ has risen, Alleluia!