“Life and death together fought …”. These words have been sung at Mass on Easter Day for almost a thousand years. The drama they evoke is a struggle in which life overcame death: Christ who died now “reigns alive” (The Easter Sequence). These words might also evoke something of the struggle in which the whole of society is engaged this Easter. It is a struggle between hope and fear; between the threat of death and the promise of life; between the triumphant power of love and a retreat into the shadows of selfishness and despair.
If Easter rejoicing seems as much out of place as the bright sunshine of Spring at this time of national anxiety, then let us remind ourselves that the hope of Easter itself sprang from the stark reality of human suffering and Christ’s death on the Cross, and that it would be heard first by men and women ‘self-isolated’ in fear.
The Easter proclamation of Christ’s Resurrection is the hope in which every generation has been able to confront the power of death. The uniqueness of Christianity taught that love is the power which ultimately shapes our destiny. This conviction, quite unknown to the people of ancient times, was to inspire reverence for life itself and for every human person, and ultimately a preferential love for the sick and vulnerable.