1990 April 15 – Easter (Bulletin Letters)
Lk 24, 1 – 12
“WHY DO YOU SEARCH FOR THE LIVING ONE AMONG THE DEAD? HE IS NOT HERE; HE HAS
BEEN RAISED UP”. Luke 24/5-6: I remember reading the book Audacity to Believe when I was doing time at the Federal Prison Camp in Leavenworth, Kansas. It’s the autobiography of Sheila Cassidy. Sheila was a young doctor in England during the late 60′ s who found herself very unhappy and unfulfilled. She left England in 1971 to work in Chile. She was not a political or religious person. She had quit practicing her Catholic faith long ago. She returned to the practice of her faith after many years of indifference when she befriended some priests and nuns working among Santiago’s very poor. She eventually joined them in trying to feed, heal and comfort a people made desperate by hunger, unemployment and loss of loved ones in the repressive military dictatorship of General Pinochet.
In November 1975 her work with the poor was dramatically interrupted when she was arrested by the D.I.N.A., Chile’s Gestapo-style secret police, for treating a wounded revolutionary. A period of interrogation and torture was followed by three weeks of solitary confinement and then five weeks of a crowded detention camp with over a hundred women political prisoners. While in the detention camp Sheila won the gradual respect of her fellow political prisoners, most of who were hard-core socialists & communists. In her long journey to reclaim her faith Sheila discovered the essential role that hope plays in the life of a believer. The more difficult the life situation becomes the more hope filled the believer becomes. As she became more and more at one with the poor and the oppressed peoples in Chile her faith grew. Finally, arrested, interrogated and tortured, Sheila was left with nothing except her basic belief in Jesus Christ, which sustained & fed her in her darkest moments. Only after being in the worst possible situation did Sheila discover the outlandish hope implicit in her act of Faith.
Sheila’s story is very much like the Easter story we celebrate this week. The Disciples and friends of Jesus were at their lowest point. Most had abandoned Jesus in His moment of need. Left alone Jesus was arrested, interrogated, tortured, falsely accused, tried, found guilty and sentenced to death on a cross. With the discovery of’ the empty tomb Jesus’ Disciples and friends were faced with the choice to either believe in His Resurrection or accept his death on the cross as the final and last word. The Disciples chose to believe in the Resurrection and in their belief they followed in Jesus’ footsteps. They took up Jesus’ cause and mission. Many eventually followed Jesus in his suffering and death. Believers ever since have refused to allow the grave and those who threaten life to have the final word. Through the centuries they have committed themselves to making the world a better place to live despite the obstacles.
“Hope” writes Jim Wallis of Sojourners magazine “means more than just hanging on. It is the conscious decision to see the world in a different way than most others see it. To hope is to look through the eyes of faith to a future not determined by the oppressive circumstances of the present. To hope is to know that the present reality will not have the last word. It is to know despite the pretensions and cruelties of idolatrous authorities, that God rules. It is God who will have the last word.” Easter is the event that insures God will win in the end and reason enough for us to place lives on the line for a better world.