Corrupt leadership, more interested in maintaining power than recognizing the truth. The spread of fake news. Princes of the Church not living up to their high calling. Women bringing a message of vital importance and not being believed.
That’s not a description of this year’s headlines. It’s a description of the first Easter, taken from the readings for Easter week. Seems things haven’t changed that much in 2,000 years!
But that’s just the point. Technology has certainly changed the outward circumstances of our lives. But human nature hasn’t changed, sin hasn’t changed, and the effect of sin on human behavior hasn’t changed.
It’s easy to multiply examples. The Letter to the Hebrews, probably written around 60 AD, includes an admonition not to miss gathering for Mass, “as is the habit of some” (see Hebrews 10:25). St. John Chrysostom, writing in the late 300s and early 400s, had to tell his congregation: “No, it’s not the same thing to pray at home as it is to pray at Church” (See Catechism of the Catholic Church #2179). St. Augustine, writing about marriage in 401, listed almost exactly the same sexual sins as those of today. Blessed John Henry Newman, writing about relativism all through the 1800s, could just as well be diagnosing the problems of moral thinking in the 21st century.
But if that sounds like bad news there’s a flip side. Just as human nature and sin haven’t changed in 2,000 years, neither has the reality and relevance of the Easter message: Christ is Risen!
Apart from God, sin and death appear to be the ultimate and inescapable horizon of human life. We experience them, in ourselves and in others.
The good news is that God has broken into that horizon. Jesus came as God in the flesh. He suffered, died and rose from the dead. He offers us a share in His life, a life that conquers sin and death.
That life can be ours if we believe in Him, become members of His body through baptism, and then follow Him both in our religious practice and in our everyday actions. That task is our hope: Through Him, we have the opportunity to escape the clutches of sin and death. But apart from Him, that hope vanishes. “There is no salvation through anyone else” (Acts 4:12).
Two thousand years later, the bad news about sinful humanity hasn’t changed, not fundamentally. And so, 2,000 years later, the good news about Jesus’ death and resurrection is just as real and relevant as ever. Christ is Risen! Happy Easter.