From the Director - Electric moment
The Easter liturgical season lasts for 50 days - from Easter to Pentecost. During these "50 days of Glory", we are asked to reflect upon the new life that we receive through the resurrection of the Lord. New life in the Risen Christ may transform us and at the same time challenge us along a road that may have difficult choices. At Easter I always think of the same things, a memory of an Easter Vigil in Jamaica and the thought "did Jesus have to go through with his Passion and Death? Could he have done something different to avoid a cruel and painful death? Did he have other options?"
My first Easter in Jamaica was in the small parish of Lucia on the north western coast in the diocese of Montego Bay. In that ‘dead time’ between the Good Friday afternoon service and the Easter Vigil on Saturday night I happened to be in the church and noticed small wires and transparent plastic rings and receptacles attached to the large wooden Cross we had used in the Good Friday service and I didn’t remember seeing these bits and pieces on it.
But their use became apparent when the choir sang the Gloria during the Easter Vigil. In the time it took to sing the Gloria, Good Friday’s naked cross was transformed into a floral extravaganza symbolising the new life of the Resurrection. The flowers were slotted expertly and swiftly into the plastic rings by a couple who produced the flowers from the buckets hidden behind the cross. The beauty of these exotic flowers combined with the syncopated Gloria written by a local Jamaican priest, Fr Ho Lung, made this an electric moment for me, the congregation already knew what was coming.
‘Electric moment’ is what I imagined Mary experienced at the tomb when she realised that Jesus was not the gardener but the Lord.
There is a story behind the flowers and the Resurrection.
The idea and the execution of the beautiful floral Cross belonged to a Filipino couple, Emmy and Jolie Dadag. They were agronomists who had secured jobs in Jamaica after their lives were threatened in the Philippines for actively opposing the Marcos regime. They took the warning seriously and applied for overseas appointments which landed them in Jamaica. After the Marcos regime came to an end, they decided to remain in Jamaica.
They were fortunate to have the option of moving out of harm’s way. They could have remained in the Philippines by renouncing their political opposition but their strong conviction to oppose what President Marcos stood for, forced them into exile. In a sense, their options were limited by the strength of their convictions.
Jesus preached the Good News of the Kingdom of God. In St Mark’s gospel His opposition is present from the start of His ministry. It is relentless and His conviction is equal to their hostility. Jesus has no illusions about their power and determination to get rid of Him. In St Luke’s gospel at the end of chapter nine are words full of foreboding, “He resolutely took the road to Jerusalem.” (9:51)
He could have chosen not to go to Jerusalem or toned down his preaching. But he could not without renouncing all that he stood for and in fact his very self. A common theme in the biographies of “People of Destiny” is that the further they move along their chosen path, their choices seem to narrow and then disappear until finally they do what they must do. Archbishop Oscar Romero’s life was an example of this. So it was with Jesus.
The ‘electric moment’ we celebrate at Easter is that God did not abandon Jesus but exalted Him to a new life. The gospels record this as a total surprise to the disciples. The gospels also record that they committed themselves to a living and vital Christ and not to the memory of a dead one.
The Lord is risen!
Fr Gary Walker
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