Easter Hope – in the financial crisis
By the Rev. Andy Alexander, S. J.
The writer is vice president for University Ministry at Creighton University.
During times of crisis, we often turn to our faith traditions to find strength and direction. At Easter time, it seems appropriate to ask what guidance the Christian tradition might offer us in the midst of our current economic woes. How are we doing? What more might we do?
Crises test us. They sometimes bring out our worst: paralyzing fear, bitterness, smallness, blaming, thinking of our own needs first, forgetting the common good or those people at the margins of society. Crises can also bring out our best: compassion, mercy, generosity, turning to God in prayer and making sacrifices for others, especially those most in need. Though there are plenty of signs that this economic crisis is testing our faith, there are greater signs of hope all around because many people are reaching out to help one another.
Jesus identified with the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick and the imprisoned. He said that we would be judged by how we care for, or fail to care for, the least among us.
The U.S. Catholic bishops stated in their 1986 letter “Economic Justice for All”: “The impact of national economic policies on the poor and the vulnerable is the primary criterion for judging their moral value. National economic policies that contribute to building a true commonwealth should reflect this by standing firmly for the rights of those who fall through the cracks of our economy: the poor, the unemployed, the homeless, and the displaced. ”
Many of us are experiencing today’s economic situation as people of faith, believing that the call to care for each other is becoming more real now. We see acts of generosity and assistance all around us. Businesses and employees are making sacrifices to save as many jobs as possible. Organizations are reaching out to those who have lost jobs. I have one friend who is putting money aside to help her brother and another who is helping her daughter pay for prescription medications. Each of us knows examples of quiet, loving acts of care for others happening every day.
The Christian celebration of Easter is all about hope. We have hope because we believe Jesus’ tomb is empty and therefore we believe every other tomb is less threatening, less frightening. We believe God’s ultimate victory over sin and death gives us the courage to imitate Jesus in giving ourselves completely for others. Our Easter hope gives us the confidence all year long to ask for God’s grace to grow in the freedom to love more completely—whether it means loving a spouse, a child, a parent or loving the stranger, the sick, the victim, the sinner.
We should embrace whatever renews us spiritually and moves us to gratitude for God’s love for us. This renewal deepens our faith and frees us to share what we have with others. Deep faith shapes our hearts to act justly. When we work together out of the best of our faith traditions in the God of us all, who loves us all, we become people who can create a just world.
Together, we can address systemic and global issues with faith-inspired hope. We must find a way to raise the level of dialogue to protect the dignity of every human life—from beginning to end. We must assist those who are losing jobs and homes. We must advocate for health care reform, find comprehensive solutions to immigration, take greater care with the environment and face a host of national and international challenges.
The reasons for this season are faith and hope that lead to greater love. The solutions to our economic crises will not come easily or without a significant cost, but if we are filled with hope and are guided by a sense of the dignity and rights of each human being, we will be more committed to the common good. Our hearts will be more sensitive to care especially for those most in need—and we will move forward together as a people less divided, purified of many of the temptations which infect our honor as a just nation.