Last week on Wednesday at the audience, Pope Francis made a proposal to all Christians, that at Easter we should greet one another saying: “Il Cristo e risorto; E veramente risorto”, which means Christ is risen, and the other answers: He is truly risen. It’s a way of wishing that the Risen Lord may be alive in each one of us.
Dear brothers and sisters, this night is the Mother of All Nights. It is because of this night that we are here, that I know you and you know me, that some left Kenya, Tanzania, Mbarara, Spain, South Korea, America and even Congo to be here.
But on this night, Christ is risen and this is the foundation of our faith. That is why this night is different from others; it is the Mother of All Nights.
What is the meaning of Easter?
To speak of it, I will use the word “Pasch” because it is closer to the origin.
In some of our Bantu and local languages, it is PASKA.
This word is from Hebrew PESAH (Swahili people, don’t think of money!) and in Greek: PASCHA.
It is to pass from one side to another. It is the PASS-OVER, a PASSAGE.
I would like to speak of three PESAH: The Jewish Pesah; the Pesah of Jesus and our own Pesah today.
The Jewish PESAH:
As we all know, The Hebrews were slaves in Egypt and God decided to free them from that slavery through the guidance of Moses. The exterminator angel (the angel exterminator) was jumping the houses of the Israelites and killing only the first-born of the Egyptians. He was passing over. « And when your children ask you, ‘what does this ritual mean?’ you will tell them, “it is the Passover sacrifice in honour of Yahweh who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt, and struck Egypt but spared our houses.’” Ex. 12, 26-27
Then to go to the Promised Land, the Israelites passed through the Red Sea on foot. That was also a Passover. But the real Passover for them is that change from the Land of Slavery to the Promised Land, the Land of freedom and Happiness. The Pesah is the liberation feast for the Jews. They have to celebrate it every year.
The PESAH of Jesus Christ:
It is also a passage. Passage from death to life. The victory of life over death. The victory of Love over hatred. The victory of Hope over despair.
The tomb is empty. The Lord has defeated death and the power of Satan.
His Resurrection is the foundation of our faith. “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is pointless and you have not, after all, been released from your sins. In addition, those who have fallen asleep in Christ are utterly lost. If our hope in Christ has been for this life only, we are of all people the most pitiable. In fact, however, Christ has been raised from the dead, as the first –fruits of all who have fallen asleep”. 1 Cor 15, 17-20
Christ is risen, and his mode of presence is different from the way he was present before the Resurrection. Now he is not limited by space and time. The Risen Lord is alive in all of us here. He can be present to many people at the same time.
Our PESAH today:
As for the Jews and for Jesus, our Pesah is also a passage. As human beings, we can have many passages in our life. I would like to mention three.
- The first passage is from non-being to being, through our parents. We were not, then God called us into existence through our parents, and we became human beings. For this passage, our point of view is not needed. Our parents decide, then we find ourselves as human beings. What depends on us is what we want to make of our lives.
- The second passage depends on us, on our free will and decision: it is from our human existence to what I call a humano-divine existence. That is when we choose to belong to God, to believe in him. Some people refuse this passage, they prefer to keep only the human existence. Once we choose God, we choose Eternal life.
- The last passage is from this life to death. Those who refuse God in their life think that the passage from life to death is the end of human existence. For us who believe in God, death is just a passage from this way of life to another one of which the Resurrection of Jesus is the prefiguration.
The Paschal experience for the disciples of Jesus was the experience that something new was happening in their lives.
As for the disciples of Jesus, we should also experience the newness of life in us. For that, we need to acknowledge that we have been taking the path of death, then to renounce it.
At times we have some signs of death in our lives. Look into your lives, you will see them. For instance telling lies, stealing, criticizing others, gossiping, cheating, being biased about people, being wicked towards others, jealousy, hypocrisy, hatred, etc. These are ways of death which at times we take. Jesus is inviting us to renounce them so that we may experience the power of his Resurrection.
At the beginning of Lent most of us took some resolutions. Now the temptation to go back to Egypt can be strong, that is the temptation to go back to our old behaviours.
Do not go back to Egypt.
Let us try our best to become good people. Each one should be good to himself then to others, and we will be good to one another. There is no need to be wicked.
We ask the Lord to help us experience the power of his Resurrection in our being.
Pesah is transformation. Pesah is new life. Pesah is a life journey.