Easter this year is being celebrated in the context of a country where almost everyone is being stifled by an extreme right government with radically ultra neoliberal socio-political policies. It is a pitiless and heartless government that destroys the advances and rights of millions of workers and people of other social categories. The government sells the natural goods that are part of the country’s sovereignty. It accepts the re-colonization of Brazil and seeks to transfer our wealth to small, powerful groups, both domestic and foreign. It has neither solidarity nor empathy for the poorest or those whose lives are threatened by violence and even death because they live in the favelas, are Black, Indigenous,quilombolas, or have a different sexual orientation.
Traveling around this country and other parts of the world, I often heard wails of pain and indignation. To me, it was like hearing the sacred words: “I have seen the oppression of my people, I have heard the cry caused by their oppressors and I know their anguish. I will liberate them and have them leave this country and go to a good and spacious land” (Ex 3,7-8).
God sets aside His transcendence (“God above all”?), comes down and joins the oppressed to help them step (Step=paso=pessach=pascua=Easter) from oppression to liberation.
It is worth noting that there is something threatening and perverse in a head of state who extols torturers, praises bloody dictators and deems it a mere accident when a Black man, the father of a family, is riddled with 80 bullets fired by the military. Moreover, he proposes a pardon for those who carried out the holocaust, killing 6 millions Jews. How can one talk of resurrection in the context of someone who preaches a perennial “Good Friday” of violence? The names of God and Jesus are always on his lips but he forgets that we are the heirs of a political prisoner who was slandered, persecuted, tortured and crucified: Jesus of Nazareth. What he does and says is derision, aggravated by the support of Pastors from neo-Pentecostal churches, whose message has little or nothing to do with the Gospel of Jesus.
In spite of this infamy, we want to celebrate Easter, the feast of life and flowering, like that of the semi-arid North: after some rain, everything is resurrected and grows green again.
The Jewish people, enslaved in Egypt, endured the crossing of a great distance, an exodus from servitude to freedom as they walked towards “a good and spacious Earth, an Earth where milk and honey flow” (symbols of justice and peace: Ex 3,8). The Judaic“Pessach” (Easter) celebrates the liberation of a whole people, not only of individuals.
The Christian Easter adds to and broadens the Judaic Pessach. Easter celebrates the liberation of all humanity by the surrender of Jesus, who accepted the unjust condemnation of death on the cross. This sentence was imposed on Him, not by the Father of goodness, but as a consequence of His liberating practice among the underprivileged of His time, and for offering another vision of God-Father, as good and merciful, not a punishing God with severe norms and laws. This was unacceptable to the orthodoxy of that epoch. Jesus of Nazareth died in solidarity with all the human beings, opening the way to the God of love and mercy.
The Christian Easter celebrates the resurrection of He who was tortured and crucified. Jesus realized the passage and exodus from death to life. He did not return to the life He had before, limited and mortal like ours. In Jesus arose another type of life, no longer subject to death, that represents the realization of all the potential present there (and in us).That which was being slowly born through the processes of cosmogenesis and anthropogenesis reached such fullness through His resurrection that finally, it was born. As French theologian Pierre Teilhard de Chardin said, Jesus, fully realized, exploded and imploded within God. Saint Paul, both perplexed and enchanted, calls Him, “novissimus Adam” (1Cor 15,45), the new Adam, the new humanity. If the Messiah was resurrected, His community, namely, all of us, even the cosmos of which we are part, participate in that blessed event. Jesus is the “first among many brothers and sisters” (Rom 8, 29). We will follow Him.
In spite of a “Good Friday” of hate and of exaltation of violence, the resurrection infuses into us the hope that we will take the step (Easter) from this sinister situation to the recuperation of our country, where no longer will there be anyone who dares favor the culture of violence, or who praises torture; no one who is insensible to the holocaust, the killing of millions. Hallelujah. Happy Easter everyone.
Leonardo Boff Eco-Theologian-Philosopher and of the Earthcharter Commission
Free translation from the Spanish sent by
Melina Alfaro, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Done at REFUGIO DEL RIO GRANDE, Texas, EE.UU.