What’s it All About?

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by Si Smith, SJ

            Here’s a little challenge: ask any ten friends to describe in detail what happened on the first Easter Sunday. You’ll likely get ten different answers. In addition, it seems everyone has their own personal interpretation of what it all means. Love?  Peace?  Justice?  Victory?  Life?  The meanings are endless.

That should all come as no surprise for any of us adult Christians for no reason other than that we’ve had a lifetime of preachers and books telling us how to understand the event itself one way or another. The April 4-11 issue of America has a most moving article by a Rwandese Jesuit, Marcel Uwineza, who survived the genocide in his country a couple of  decades ago . . . . a monstrosity which occurred in the first week of Easter in a thoroughly Christian country. Marcel’s reflections deserve reading and meditation.

So what does Easter mean to your family, your children, your relatives, fellow parishioners, neighbors, etc.? And how is that different from what Easter means to the homeless or imprisoned or handicapped or hospitalized or whomever your IVC placement has you serving?

Why all these questions? Well, truth to tell, we need to inquire of ourselves about the Easter event for several reasons. First, because it’s simply dumb to live one’s adult life with a child’s view of the Gospels. Second, the Gospels and other New Testament writings do not agree on what really happened at Easter.

Further, for us as IVC, it’s important to appreciate that those we serve may well have quite different notions about what Easter is all about, not to mention Love, Peace, Justice, Victory, Life, etc. The trajectory of their own lives has enriched them with attitudes and values about Easter and its meanings which we would do well to listen to and learn from. That, in itself, would help us appreciate the breadth, indeed the huge expanse of what Easter means. It’s bigger than we think!

Simon (Si) E. Smith, S.J is a New England Jesuit with a broad background and varied international experience.  He taught at different levels in Baghdad College, Iraq, Boston College, Weston Jesuit School of Theology, Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley and Nativity schools in Boston and Worcester. His major and preferred areas of instruction are Scripture and liturgy.  He is known as an organizer and administrator, having spent a dozen years based in Washington, as Executive of Jesuit Missions for the U.S. and Canada. Si has published widely, is a popular lecturer, is fluent in French, Spanish and German and has traveled & worked extensively in the third world. And we are grateful that he also serves IVC as a Spiritual Reflector.

2 Responses to “What’s it All About?”

  1. Helen McCarthy

    I have just asked myself, what does Easter really mean to me and I have a very child like knowledge of the gospels and Church beliefs in response; more inquiry needed please

  2. Bernie Troje

    If I stop at the literal meaning of the Gospels, I miss the deeper levels of meaning which to me are far more important than the “historical facts.” Jesus, for me, is alive today because his life and death remind me how counter-intuitive his example is. When we go with the flow, when we let the influence of the culture – the way things are done – rule our lives, we find ourselves living for ourselves. Jesus would not have ended up on the cross if he had lived that way. It’s all too obvious that living for myself means others are suffering for me. I shouldn’t be satisfied with my life as long as that is what is happening. Finally, it doesn’t really make any difference what I believe if it doesn’t make a difference how I live.


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