O Death, where is your victory? O Death, where is your sting? – Easter 2009
Whenever I stumble upon this passage from 1 Corinthians 15, I have the same knee-jerk reaction: I can go with the victory part; but death does sting.
When a loved one dies, sensations of loneliness, loss, grief — sometimes even anger — sting us.
Watching the news these past several days, who hasn’t felt the sting of senselessness and helplessness at the slayings of the immigrants of Binghamton, N.Y., and the suicide of the perpetrator?
Violence rages across Earth. It takes the form of war, human trafficking, ecological devastation of planet Earth, extinction of species, genocide, starvation, ethnic cleansing — to say nothing of corporate greed. I feel the sharp sting of these and more.
At the same time, I believe in the deepest part of me that “life is changed, not ended” in all of the above. I’ve experienced the continuing and intimate presence of loved ones who have died. I’ve been part of the waves of persons’ compassionate actions responding to so many kinds of tragedies. The witness of faith communities in the face of the violence of war, of the death penalty, of ecological devastation speaks of the power of collective action on behalf of the common good. The unending love and life of God surge through these experiences, no doubt.
It seems to me that it is this very “conviction in the midst of chaos” that we carry into Holy Week and into our experience of the Easter feast. Having faith in and experiencing the God of Providence, the God of Life, gives us a conviction that God’s love and life are never swallowed up by nor defeated by violence and chaos. Stung though we are by the forces of death, we cling to the faith in Life always prevailing.
What is frequently said about old age can be said of the mysteries we celebrate during this Holy Week. “Easter isn’t for sissies.” Let us hold one another in compassion and care these days and always.
Happy Easter from the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods!
Sister Denise Wilkinson
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