By FORMER SENATOR ATTY. JOEY D. LINA
The Easter Sunday bombings that killed more than 200 people and wounded hundreds in churches and hotels in Sri Lanka is yet another cruel manifestation of unconscionable evil on a rampage, and of the need for us to implore our Risen Lord to shine His light in the darkness of our times.
In the face of the indescribable violence inflicted upon worshippers gathered in prayer during Easter services at two of Sri Lanka’s Catholic churches, the St. Anthony’s Shrine in Colombo and St. Sebastian Church in Negombo, and the Zion Church in Batticaloa, it is right for the Philippines to join the rest of the world in condemning the violence and expressing solidarity for all the blast victims.
“This is an attack against the whole of Sri Lanka because Sri Lanka is a multi-ethnic, multi-religious, and multi-cultural country, and the whole country comes together in celebration of Easter Sunday,” a high commissioner of Sri Lanka said.
While Sri Lanka’s minority Christian community appeared to be the main target of Sunday’s apparently coordinated bombings, terror attacks have not been confined to Christians. Just a month ago, 50 people were killed in a terrorist attack on two Muslim mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, a country known for diversity and as a refuge for migrant communities.
And the violence in Sri Lanka was not the first terror attack of a gruesome scale perpetrated during Easter in modern times. On Easter Sunday of 2016, 72 people, 29 of them children, were killed and around 300 more wounded in Lahore, Pakistan, in a bombing attack carried out by a Taliban splinter group that targeted members of Lahore’s minority Christian community that had gathered to celebrate Easter in a crowded park.
The faithful who are bothered by the spate of violence occurring on an Easter Sunday may find solace in the latest Easter message Urbi et Orbi — to the city of Rome and to the world — of Pope Francis who said: “Christ is alive and He remains with us. Risen, He shows us the light of His face, and He does not abandon all those experiencing hardship, pain, and sorrow.”
“Before the many sufferings of our time, may the Lord of life not find us cold and indifferent. May He make us builders of bridges, not walls,” the Pope said in his address to the world on Sunday.
And it’s clear Pope Francis also wants the faithful to help address other forms of violence, particularly the “violence of impoverishment” many of our brethren suffer from. “May the Risen Christ, who flung open the doors of the tomb, open our hearts to the needs of the disadvantaged, the vulnerable, the poor, the unemployed, the marginalized, and all those who knock at our door in search of bread, refuge, and the recognition of their dignity,” the Pope said in his Easter message.
It’s lamentable indeed that senseless violence from terror attacks can happen on Easter when it’s supposed to be the loveliest time of the year in many parts of the world, with flowers blooming, birds singing, with skies at its deepest blue. But more than its resonance with nature, Easter brings forth a season of new beginnings, a celebration of renewal and rebirth, a message of hope, and, most important, God’s promise of eternal life.
Easter – timed by the Church to coincide with the first Sunday following the first full moon after the spring equinox – is the centerpiece of the Christian faith. It is the greatest feast of the year for more than 2 billion people all over the world professing Christianity, with Catholics numbering more than a billion.
It commemorates the time more than 2,000 years ago when the begotten Son of God, from whom Christianity takes its name, triumphed over death after making the sacrifice of crucifixion to redeem humanity of its sins.
The resurrection of our Lord Jesus is incontrovertible proof of eternal life. Without the Risen Christ, there would be no Christianity. So essential is the physical resurrection that the apostle Paul wrote the Corinthians, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.” Thus, in Christ’s resurrection lies the true significance of Easter, of the promise of eternal life.
But the Holy Bible declares that belief in Jesus and His sacrificial act is the one and only way to eternal life and for us sinners to be reconciled with God. Christ said it clearly: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me (John 14:6).”
Believing that God made His only Son human and undergo an agonizing death on the cross brings us to the reality that there isn’t any other way to eternal life than accepting what is stated in John 3:16 in the Holy Bible: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
As Easter brings about redemption through the Risen Christ, the faithful are strengthened in the conviction that Christianity is anchored on the belief that good shall eventually triumph over evil, that light always extinguishes darkness.
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