Easter: An Invitation for Ongoing Transformation

Apr 04 2021 02:04 PM
Easter: An Invitation for Ongoing Transformation

JACOB PEENIKAPARAMBIL- Belief in the resurrection of Jesus is one of the fundamental beliefs of many followers of Jesus. They believe that as Jesus rose from the dead, they too will rise to eternal life after their death. The resurrection of Jesus can have three practical applications not only to the life of Christians, but also to people of all faiths and non-faith.

Resurrection of Jesus reminds all people irrespective of their faiths, the need for ongoing transformation in view of a total renewal in the life of a person. It is a transformation from hatred to forgiveness and reconciliation, from selfishness to altruism and compassion, from negativity to positivity, from greed to generosity, from exclusiveness to inclusiveness, from arrogance to humility, from fundamentalism to liberalism, from copying to creativity, from hypocrisy to authenticity, from secrecy to transparency, from cowardice to courage and from despair to hope.

The second insight from the resurrection of Jesus is that truth cannot be buried forever. It will come out one day. The political parties, organization and individuals have to bear in mind that the lies they manufacture and market will be exposed one day. They have to remember what Abraham Lincoln has said. You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.

 The third insight from the resurrection of Jesus is the need for transcending smaller or lower identities. Before the death of Jesus he was mainly known in Palestine and the neighbouring areas. In other words, he was limited to a small geographical area and a particular religion and culture. But after the resurrection Jesus became universal; he became an ideal for people belonging to different cultures, languages and countries.

Human beings have various identities like religion, nationality, gender, caste or class, language, profession etc. Within the religion alone there could be different sub-identities. As long as humans are social beings, they may require different identities. Often conflicts and fights arise because of different identities. Absolutization of any identity leads to conflicts.

Resurrection of Jesus is an invitation to transcend the lower identities and focus on the highest identities: humanity and the divine presence in every human being. According to the teachings of Jesus these two identities are the two sides of once and the same coin. One cannot exist without the other.

Religiosity in the form of rituals, prayers, dogmas, pilgrimages, religious laws etc, often binds a person to a particular identity and there is the danger of becoming a slave to a particular identity or a few identities. On the other hand, spirituality is based on the practice of values like love, compassion, forgiveness, generosity, altruism, justice and respecting the dignity of individuals etc, liberates a person and helps him/her to transcend the lower identities and focus on the highest two identities of humanness and divine presence in every human being. Then the whole world will become her/his family (Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam).

Jesus did not establish any religion. He introduced and promoted a way of life based on the values as enunciated in the Sermon on the Mount (Mt. 5, 6, 7). The way of life lived and promoted by Jesus requires transcending the lower identities and concentrating on the highest identities of humanity and the divine presence in every human being.

In a world ravaged by hatred, violence, division, discrimination and exclusion, the three  insights from the resurrection of Jesus are very relevant. Religion has been a divisive force throughout the history of the world and today religions are becoming more and more fundamentalist and divisive. Politicization of religion makes it not only divisive but also poisonous. The solution to this menace is religions reinventing themselves by restoring the original spirit, SPIRITUALITY and the capacity to transcend lower identities. Celebration of Easter or resurrection of Jesus calls all human beings to become spiritual, inclusive and resist strongly any attempt to convert religion into a weapon of division and hatred. jacobpt48@gmail.com

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