Easter morning in Penang: A new beginning
Easter is the greatest festival in the Christian calendar – more important than Christmas.
Christians believe that was the day Jesus triumphed over Death and appeared to his followers.
As theologian Marcus Borg notes, he was executed by the Empire but vindicated by God. Too often, we only look at the message of personal and spiritual transformation that Easter heralds.
But there is also a political message. Jesus advocated a politics of compassion – he had a vision of society that is just and inclusive, where even the outcasts and the marginalised would be invited to the heavenly banquet.
He challenged the ruling elite of his time who were oppressing and exploiting the poor. During the time of Jesus, Palestine was under Roman occupation. He lived in a peasant society in which burdensome taxes were imposed on the 90 per cent of the population who were peasants. The elites and their retainers, who made up the remaining 10 per cent, controlled two-thirds of the wealth.
Early Christians proclaimed “Jesus is Lord!” That itself was a subversive post-Easter message – for Caesar was then the Emperor and deemed by Roman imperial theology to be divine. In the context of the times – and even today – that proclamation carries an added meaning: God, rather than Caesar or any other worldly overlords, is the real Lord!
When Jesus appeared after the resurrection, he passed a message to his followers that he could be found in Galilee. Galilee was the place that Jesus first proclaimed that the kingdom of God was at hand – a kingdom of justice, peace and compassion. Thus, anyone working to realise that kingdom, which Jesus so passionately proclaimed, would find and be guided by the presence of the living Spirit of God.
God has conquered Death and is very much interested in the Lives of the people of his kingdom. His Spirit lives on in all those who participate in building a kingdom that is just, compassionate and inclusive. His Spirit will guide us towards refashioning and recreating the world the way God wants it to be.