Photo by James Broscombe 2010 (jmbroscombe.blogspot.com)
Easter Sunday. Christians across the United States and around the world celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, three days after his death by crucifixion. In Guyana, the sky above the coastline vibrates with colorful kites of all shapes and sizes.
Growing up in a working class family in a British colony, I connected with Jesus’ life and world. He, too, came from the working class and lived in a country ruled by the foreign power of his day: the Roman Empire.
Accounts of Jesus’ teachings and work in the gospels of the New Testament reveal a man fearless in criticizing the excesses, self-righteousness, vanity, and hypocrisy of religious leaders in his community. They chided Jesus for mixing with bad-johns, women of ill-repute, people of other religions; and for disregarding their religious dictates. Through his actions, He made it clear that his mission was to serve the weak, broken, harassed, dejected, outcast, lost, abandoned, sick, and poor.
When his enemies brought to him a woman caught in adultery, a crime punishable by stoning to death, Jesus did not fall for their trickery. He made one request. The person who was free of guilt should throw the first stone. After the woman’s accusers walked away one by one, He did not lambaste her. Go home, He told her. Stop making such bad choices.
Jesus’ teachings continue to resonate with me. He advocated that we love our neighbors as we love ourselves. A tough one that is. My neighbor might be a rapist, wife-beater, pedophile, drug dealer, pimp, thief… My list of undesirable neighbors is long. Life is complicated enough when relating with those I love.
As to loving myself? That poses another challenge. I grew up with parents who fought constantly with each other. If love existed, I could not sense it. It took me years to learn to love myself with all my failings and weaknesses. Only then could I begin to accept and love others with their own frailties.
As an adolescent, it shocked me that a good person like Jesus could be rejected, betrayed, and executed. Goodness repaid with evil intent. As an adult, I learned that this is the reality of our day-to-day lives, even when dealing with decent people.
It heartened me to learn that after Jesus’ death, his disciples overcame their fear of also facing execution, and came out of hiding. They carried on Jesus’ mission, declaring that He had risen from the dead. Persecution, imprisonment, and death did not deter them. Love had conquered fear. Love had prevailed. The life, work, and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth – a small village on the fringes of the Roman Empire – spread across the world and have endured to this day.
Easter Sunday reminds me that love will prevail wherever and whenever Darkness wields its iron fists. Today, my soul soars high with the kites over Guyana’s cities, towns, and villages.