Amazon Easter: the discovery of God´s mystery in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus in the bitter-sweet reality of our world today
The colonizing interests that have continued to expand
– legally and illegally – the timber and mining industries,
and have expelled or marginalized the indigenous peoples,
the river people and those of African descent,
are provoking a cry that rises up to heaven:
“Many are the trees where torture dwelt,
and vast are the forests purchased with a thousand deaths”
(Querida Amazonia. No. 9).
Easter is, no doubt, the most significant feast for Catholics as it represents the completion of the journey of Jesus, the fulfillment of His mission, and the invitation to everyone, with no distinction or preference, to participate in His calling to contribute in the building of the kingdom. It is the distinctive remembrance of the path between the Incarnation and the Resurrection of Christ. But too many times we seem to turn our eyes away from what is especially essential and close to our own lives about this, and that is the life, passion and death of He who invites us to join him in this passage. Jesus chooses to stand with the impoverished, the excluded and the outcast, and in the end, this is what brings him to a point in which He had to face the consequences of challenging the power system of his time.
This is what Easter truly means, and this year we are called to recognize again the path of Jesus among us in our beautiful and hurt Amazon reality. It is through the eyes of the indigenous peoples and the Amazon communities that we are confronted by the presence of a Jesus who suffers and encounters His fate, as so many do in this region, for standing up and defending their culture, their territory, the place in which their spirituality blossoms, and their rights. There is no romantic portrait about the Amazon these days, her beauty is under threat, and her sons and daughters are being criminalized, expelled from their lands, and even assassinated because they stand in the way of the so-called progress.
Inequality is reaching a point in which more and more people become discardable, producing a “throw away” society, where diversity has no place, and the poor and the marginalized, those with whom Jesus lives and continues to be Incarnated, have no possibility to change their fate because this world we have created is designed for them to remain like this, no matter how hard they work or try to change their reality. We are experiencing the most severe climate crisis in history, which is in fact a climate emergency, and even so, we fail to recognize the radical change we have to undergo, specially by those more developed societies. Our common home, including the Amazon, is literally on fire as a result of the unlimited desire to accumulate more and more by very few, as if there was no tomorrow, nor future generations.
As we face this, we are tempted to lose hope and to abandon any pursue for a truthful change, but this is where the Pascal hope overcomes any feeling of despair, because we know death will never have the final word. The certainty of our hope in the resurrection is the result of our trust in a Jesus who does not abandon us, as he never did, as he has committed himself to unite his life with our own lives. He is present in the beauty of the diversity of the Amazon region, in the cultural expressions of those communities in which He lives and is present undeniably through the seeds of the incarnated Word, and in the daily resistance of the Amazon communities who refuse to be dominated by the powers of this world. For they know God journeys with them, and they shall prevail as they always have, just as sure as the risen Christ will come back to them over and over again.
In this Easter season, may your heart be filled with the hopeful-indignation of allowing your heart to recognize the resurrection of Christ in your midst, and to find your own call onto action to make this world a better one. May your life be full of reasons to stand up for justice and with an ongoing pursue for the kingdom in your ordinary life, in which extraordinary things can happen when we allow for the Easter hope to take place. During these days you´re invited to feel the calling to recognize your own inner and outer Amazonia, and by finding the mystery of God in it, do whatever it takes to protect it, defend it, and to see it blossom once again.
Mauricio López Oropeza is executive secretary of the Pan-Amazon Church Network (REPAM).