Throughout Lent, Bondings 2.0 has featured reflections by two New Ways Ministry staff members: Matthew Myers, Associate Director, and Sister Jeannine Gramick, Co-Founder. This series closes today with the reflection below. The liturgical readings for Easter Sunday are Acts 10:34a, 37-43; 1 Corinthians 5:6b-8; John 20:1-9.
In pre-Vatican II days, I was a child in a Catholic grade school in Philadelphia. Every year toward the end of Lent, on the day before the Easter recess, the sisters would usher their classes down to the school’s big auditorium. There in the dark, cavernous room a feature length, silent movie about the passion of Christ would be projected onto a giant screen. I can still remember the black and white images of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, before Caiphas and Annas, being scourged and crowned with thorns, carrying and being nailed to the cross. This was a much more gruesome and shocking movie than even Mel Gibson could imagine.
I cried and cried each year that I saw the movie. My idea of Easter was suffering and death. In those days, the Easter Vigil was a quiet Saturday morning liturgy that not many people attended. Easter Sunday Mass seemed also subdued. The Resurrection appeared as an afterthought. No wonder that I felt Christmas was the happiest day of the liturgical year.
In the very early Church, there were no crosses to signify Christianity. The fish was the Christian symbol and the fish, not the cross, was the icon that St. Augustine used. Historians claim that only six crosses, without a corpus, have been unearthed that date back to the time of Augustine.
I thank God for Vatican II, the renewal of the liturgy, and theological developments—all of which my parched and Jansenistic spirituality drank in. I now understand that Christ’s passion, death, and Resurrection are all one fabric in the Paschal mystery.
The Resurrection is God’s response to the cruel and immoral deeds of those who wanted to do away with Jesus, stop his healings, and silence his voice for a more just world. Jesus’ Resurrection means that life will be victorious over death, goodness will triumph over evil, peace and joy will replace pain and suffering. Jesus did indeed suffer and die for us—in order to show us how to live.
Jesus never promised that he would put a stop to sickness or tragedy or pain—ours or any one else’s. Jesus did promise that he could take those circumstances and mysteriously draw life out of them. His goodness is stronger than any wickedness or evil. Jesus is that good.
To follow the crucified Christ until the Resurrection means that we try to stop grumbling, criticizing, and finding fault so much. It means that we cease lamenting the injustices in the world and in the church, but start trying to correct them. It means that we stop feeling so sorry for ourselves. It means that we will seek to give our time, our energy, our struggles, our very existence for the sake of love. We will know injury, exhaustion, and sorrow, but hope in Christ’s Resurrection will sustain us because Christ’s goodness is stronger than any wickedness or evil. Jesus is that good.
–Sister Jeannine Gramick, SL, New Ways Ministry