Easter Sunday, Year A-2011
- I am the resurrection and the life (Jn. 11:25—NAB)
The sorrowful, purifying and silent recollection of the passion and death of our Lord Jesus Christ gives way to the glorious, renewing and lively celebration of his resurrection. The poor, more than anybody else, I think, celebrate this solemn feast with fervent devotion and unfathomable enthusiasm.
It is because, “it is among them, among this poor people, that the true religion is kept”—as St. Vincent de Paul dared to say , even though there would be no way of accusing him, of course, of fomenting class struggle the way Dom Hélder Câmara was accused. Moreover, familiar with suffering that they are because of their own personal experience of tribulations, the poor, better than most people, can sympathize with Jesus in his passion and death. Accordingly, in view of Jesus’ resurrection, their pain of compassion for the crucified is turned into the greatest and most heartfelt joy that no one can take away (cf. Jn. 16:20-22).
Yes, the poor proclaim with wonderful, glorious and indescribable joy their faith in the risen Lord. They do so even when they are left poorer still and without provisions because of war, theft, the inclemency of weather or some natural disaster. Despite their pains, sorrows and straits, or, better, precisely because of them, these folks who submit to orders and endure patiently and bravely their misfortunes and miseries continue to have a lively faith, believing simply and without analyzing things deeply or minutely. The apostle Peter and the beloved disciple, and so did the apostle Thomas, saw and then believed; the poor, on the other hand, believe without seeing. They believe without question and without reservation the proclamation: “They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, but God raised him on the third day.”
Perhaps like the disciples, the poor do not yet understand Scripture statements about Jesus’ having to rise from the dead and, much less, about his having to suffer and die, and therefore they become easy prey for those who, making a lie of the cross, misuse it as an ideology and a tool of oppression . But the poor have an uncanny and clear intuition of God’s ability to make possible the impossible. They are firmly convinced that God creates good things out of nothing, he sees to it that order come out of chaos, he satisfies the hunger and thirst of those who find themselves in the wilderness where food and water cannot be found, he empowers a young virgin or a barren elderly woman to give birth, he lets the Word become flesh, he raises the dead to life. They take it as unquestionably certain that the foolishness and the weakness of the cross are the wisdom and power of God and that the harshness of divine demands, as in the “binding of Isaac,” for example, does not mean anything other than the overflowing divine generosity (Rom. 8:32). They cannot but hope, therefore, that their sufferings will lead to glory.
Due to this intuition, conviction and hope, the poor are ready to feed, out of their blood, sweat and tears, others in need, and in particular, those who are resolved to live off the patrimony of Jesus Christ. They are willing even to give all that they have to live on gladly and without fear (Lk. 21:1-3). Devoted like Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, and like Peter, too, and the beloved disciple, the poor are the first ones to arrive and attend to people. And they are the ones who, at the Lord’s supper, do not go to help themselves first, but they wait rather for others and see to it that no one goes hungry or is made to feel ashamed (1 Cor. 11:20-34).
And if this is how those who, buried with Jesus through baptism into death, keep their faith, hope and love, would not this indicate perhaps that they now truly live in newness of life and are thinking of what is above, not of what is on earth? This would be a much better and more indisputable way of bearing witness to the risen Jesus in a postmodern and secularized world, am I right?
-  P. Coste XI, 200-201.
-  Robert P. Maloney, C.M., “The Cross in Vincentian Spirituality,” He Hears the Cry of the Poor (Hyde Park, NY: New City Press, 1995) 43.