Speaking to people who have already “put their faith in God,” the first reading (Acts 14: 21-27) tells us how the apostles tried their best to strengthen the resolve of the people to continue following the Lord. They said: It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.

What?  Necessary to suffer again and again and again?  Isn’t this the time of Easter, when sin, suffering and death are vanquished forever?  Can we not have enough of hardships in our lives?

Yes this is Easter, and the glory of the Risen One shines above all darkness and pain. It is a season of light, of jubilation, of triumph, and of freedom!  But the truth remains that the Resurrection can be experienced only by each one of us when we confront, not avoid, the hardships that mark our lives. 

Easter is about the experience of the Resurrection of Jesus, it is not about the experience of utopia or illusory bliss.  That is why after we went to Mass last Easter, we went home finding our bills still unpaid, our family members still plunged into sickness, vices, and old attitudes, our officemates just the same as before, and ourselves if we are honest, pretty much unchanged in our mindset or situations. The challenges of life continue after Jesus’ Resurrection.

Even in Easter the readings remind us that there will be hardships for varied reasons. The devil does not rest in his attempts to distract us from the Risen One. We go through pain to be purified and we need this. We bear the weight of our burdens because “in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ.” (Col 1:24)

There will be an end to all our pain and struggles when the new heavens and new earth finally materialize (Rev. 21: 1). But this has to wait until the fulfillment of all God’s promises.  Meanwhile, the victory of Jesus does not excuse us from the limitations of this world. The Risen One gives us something much more important for our daily journey – the power of love (Jn 13;34). In the gospel, Jesus invites us to take the path of love to defeat the hardships of our problems and pains.

Jesus, help me realize that my own resurrection from my daily struggles will not come through an illusory or magical defeat of my life’s enemies, but only through love. Lead me to experience and share your love to experience the meaning of your victory in my life.