For those of us who attend Holy Saturday’s Easter Vigil service it may seem long and tedious. But this liturgy, through Old Testament and New Testament readings, leads us through salvation history from Creation to our new creation at Easter and then with the baptism of the catechumens we witness new creations.
Easter is normally a time for family celebrations (at least, I hope so) with lavish dinners, an abundance of chocolate and colored eggs for the children. It is wonderful to celebrate this day- Francis of Assisi, who probably fasted half the year, said that Easter should be a time of feasting, even if it meant smearing meat on the walls (he meant that metaphorically and anyway meat is too expensive today to try that at home). We celebrate the Resurrection and the hope that Christ gives us, not in the past, but today. We celebrate the gift of life. We celebrate family and friends.
Recently, there have been reports in the media of some technocrats boldly proclaiming that humanity is obsolete and will soon be replaced by robots or cyborgs. There is even a movement which seeks to merge humanity with computers and eliminate the human body (I kid you not, and this is not as far-fetched as it sounds- this dangerous philosophy is called ‘transhumanism). Such a view is deceptive- to be perfect, totally efficient, and with no limitation of a physical body! But it is a deception! Never has it been more important for us to reflect on the gift of human life. We are not perfect- so what; we sin- so what (God forgives us, if we want forgiveness) and finally we can be distracted – again so what (we can also re-focus ourselves on what is important). Human life is not about mimicking a machine; we are not made to be super-efficient (though who doesn’t value some efficiency when at the DMV!). And our physical bodies in spite of its limitations, which become ever more apparent as we age, have a dignity because of the Incarnation (the Word chose to take on our physical body!). Furthermore, our bodies allow us to connect with others and creation and find joy in such connections. We are made to glorify God and we do this through finding God in our hidden talents, celebrating the joys and misfortunes of life, learning and loving others over the course of a life time (however much time we have). Easter re-affirms that humanity is loved and valued by God; He chose to become human (not a perfect cyborg!) to show us how valuable we are. For us the choice is clear: do we want to live life recognizing the dignity of being sons and daughters of God through prayer, penance, almsgiving, service and celebration or not.
The doctors of MDA see the humanity of the poor and bring healing to physical bodies and they need your prayers and support. Value your humanity- thank God for it and Happy Easter!
Brother John Kiesler, OFM