Easter Sunday, Year C-2010
- The poor have the good news proclaimed to them (Mt. 11:5)
While Jesus undoubtedly distinguished between office and office holder and counseled obedience to the scribes and Pharisees as occupants of Moses’ seat, he nevertheless denounced them as hypocrites, whose example should not be followed, since, for one thing, they devoured the houses of widows and, as a pretext, recited lengthy prayers (Mt. 23:1-3; see also Mk. 12:38-40 and Lk. 20:46-47). In the parable of the good Samaritan, he put in question the neighborliness of Temple officials (Lk. 10:3-37). Moreover, in the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector, Jesus surely portrayed the Pharisees as deserving of condemnation for being so sure of their own righteousness and despising everyone else” (Lk. 18:9-14). The Temple officials must have also felt their vested interests and privileges threatened when Jesus drove out of the Temple area those who were turning God’s house into a market and den of thieves so that they would look for a way to get rid of him (Mt. 21:12-13; Mk. 11:12-17; Lk. 19:45-46; Jn. 2:12-13). And since they belonged to the upper classes, the religious elite and leaders must have found rather stinging, and undermining too of their authority, Jesus’ proclamation of the blessings for the poor and of the woes for the rich (Lk. 6:20-26).
Clearly, Jesus was on a collision course with the religious and secular leaders of his time. It was just a matter of time that he, like the prophets of old, would be persecuted and led to a cruel and violent death (Mt. 16:21; 17:22-23; 20:17-19; Mk 8:31; 10:33; Lk. 17:25; 18:31; Jn. 12:23-25). And when Jesus was finally lifted up from the earth to draw everyone to himself, he stood for all the crucified poor and was the voice of the voiceless, his sprinkled blood speaking more eloquently than that of Abel (Jn. 12:32; Heb. 12:24). His life necessarily and inevitably meant death. As Father Robert P. Maloney, C.M., puts it (see “The Cross in Vincentian Spirituality,” He Hears the Cry of the Poor [Hyde Park, N.Y.: New City Press, 1995] 34; see also ):
- ... [I]t is very important not to isolate the death of Jesus from his life. The saving
- significance of Jesus’ death is related to what he proclaimed and what was rejected.
- Jesus identifies with the outcast, the poor, the powerless. In his death, as in life,
- he is one of them. There is, therefore, a clear continuity between his way of living and
- his way of dying, his proclamation and his rejection. Jesus’ death on the cross flows from
- his option for the poor and the powerless. He shows himself wonderfully free before the
- powerful of this world. He criticizes those who lay oppressive burdens on others. But he
- himself is powerless. So the oppressors, the powerful, reject him. His death by crucifixion
- is that of those who have no rights.
Put to death by hanging on the tree, Jesus is thereby exalted and glorified (Phil. 2:5-11; Jn. 12:23, 29; 13:30-32). Exalted and glorified with him are Rutilio Grande, S.J., Óscar A. Romero, Nico Van Cleef, C.M., and all the crucified people of the world, all of them having partaken of the bread and cup of the Lord. With the Paschal Lamb that has been sacrificed, they challenge us to believe the good news to the poor by celebrating Easter “not with the old yeast of malice and wickedness,” exploitation, oppression and self-centeredness, “but the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth,” love, justice and solidarity, so that we may see and believe, so that we may not be so foolish and slow to believe all that the prophets spoke about Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection, and so that we may found with the living Lord rather than among the dead.