Opinion: What Easter accomplished

Jesus came to reconcile all humankind to its creator and to offer eternal life to those who love God.

Not everyone agrees that he succeeded.

But look around you and see how life has changed for the better because of his example. People are still flawed, but no one claims today's world to be the same barbarous, superstitious tyranny that it was when Jesus came to save it. Because of his influence and the faith of his followers, the modern world is, with notable exceptions, certainly a much better place to live in.

Because Jesus insisted on the equality of all men and women, we have long since insisted on equal treatment before the law. Because Jesus praised the Good Samaritan, civilized nations prize benevolence and generosity over cruelty and indifference. Because Jesus chose peace over war, no Christian nation takes to arms lightly. Because Jesus was unafraid of the truth and despised superstition, national leaders promote literacy and education. Because Jesus held life sacred and cured the sick, so do all civilized people.

Jesus revealed that there is no such thing as a common man or a common woman; rather, he believed that every human creature is extraordinary. Grasping that belief, people have fought for personal freedom and human rights. Because Jesus urged forgiveness as an alternative to punishment, he appealed to the best in human nature. Because Jesus praised the poor and the weak, wealth and power are no longer deemed to be virtues, but only gifts. Because Jesus' life inspired art, music and literature, all people are richer for it. Because Jesus forgave faults, each of us can acknowledge ours and change for the better. Because Jesus was the Good Shepherd, none of us needs to be lost. Because Jesus overcame fear, we can find courage.

These are the legacies of Jesus that all people inherit at birth, whether or not they believe in him.

Ultimately, Jesus is a mystery to us, because there has never been another person like him in whom human nature and divinity coexisted in peace. Do you ever wonder what this strange God-man dreamed about? God, of course, never sleeps, and has no need of fantasy. But what of Jesus the man, an exhausted wanderer, often with only a stone for a pillow and the stars for a roof over his head?

I suspect that, in his dreams, Jesus discovered a peace in his dual identity that eluded him in his waking life, renewing the intimacy between God and man that had been lost after Paradise. His entire brief ministry was aimed at recapturing that very intimacy for every man, woman and child.

I like to think that Jesus often smiled in his sleep. Awake, he never hid his tears or his anger, his pity or his compassion. And at the end, he did not hide his fears. But alone at prayer, or asleep and dreaming, he was free to feel the gigantic secret of all who believe in him. That secret is joy.

(David Yount is the author of 14 books, including "Be Strong and Courageous" (Sheed & Ward/Rowman & Littlefield). He answers readers at P.O. Box 2758, Woodbridge, VA 22193 and dyount31(at)verizon.net.)

AMAZING GRACE

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