I have been working in the field of education for more than twenty years now. And every time I come to reflect upon the fruits of Easter, I always try to connect it to the work of educating young people. This month, I have decided to write about the relationship between the Resurrection story and the need to form young people of today into hope-filled persons.
An Extraordinary Sunday
I begin my reflection with the story of the Resurrection according to St. Luke:
But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they did not find the body. While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.” …
Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles. But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. (Luke 24:1-5, 10-11)
On that ordinary Sunday morning, the women came prepared. They had their spices with them. They had their perfumes. They came to wash and clean the body of Jesus. They expected to see the tomb covered with the large stone. They expected to be accompanied by the Roman guards to the tomb’s entrance. They already intended to ask their help to roll the big stone so that they can enter the tomb where Jesus lay. They simply expected to see the body of Jesus there.
It was an ordinary Sunday morning … so they thought.
On that Sunday morning, as the women came near the tomb, they began to notice certain details that seemed out-of-place. The guards were not there. The huge stone had already been rolled. The burial clothes have already been put on one side. The body of Jesus was not there!
On that Sunday morning, something extraordinary happened! The tomb, where the dead lies buried, is empty. Jesus is not there. He is risen.
The women run to the apostles and tell them the things they have seen. The apostles sneer at them. These women are telling idle tales. Nobody rises from the dead. These women are delusional. Jesus is dead. There is nothing more to expect.
Easter and Hope
The resurrection of Jesus defies all human expectations. Jesus had lived a blameless life. He met a tragic end. And that was it. But then, God has always been a God who likes to pull surprises. He has done this in the birth of His Son. No one would prevent him from doing it again in his death
When our lives have always been shaped by pain, by failure, by sadness and darkness, it is very easy to succumb to the expectation that things will always remain the same. We plod on in life with a sense of hopelessness and defeat. The Resurrection of Jesus teaches us otherwise. It teaches us to hope. It instructs us to hold on to the goodness of God.
One of the aims of twenty-first-century education is to instill in the students the sense of hope that things can still be made better in a world shattered by so many problems. There is so much cynicism in today’s world that some have already given up even on the younger generation. There are those who live following the mantra that “today is worse than yesterday, and tomorrow offers no solutions to the problems of today.” That is why it is important for educators today to bring into their classrooms a “curriculum of hope.”
Educating to Hope and Optimism
David Hicks, a British educator, in a paper entitled “The Long Transition: Educating to Hope and Optimism in Troubled Times”, says that in order to develop a curriculum of hope in our classrooms, it is important that teachers are able to look into the sources of hope in today’s society. In a study he conducts among educators, he names the following as sources of hope for teachers: a) looking into the collective struggles of people and seeing how they have fought for justice and equality; b) tapping the inner strength of human creativity; c) developing the students self-worth; d) grounding the lives of students in a faith and belief that they can own and live.
There is a lot to be done in our classrooms and even in church youth ministry circles if we are to go into the hard work of making our students hope-filled persons. But then, every time teachers tell young people about the collective struggle of a people to fight for a better world; every time teachers tap into the potentials of human creativity in science, arts, and music subjects, every time parents uplift the worth of their children when they affirm their goodness, every time educators instill the sense of the divine in a values or literature class, every time youth ministers speak about how the power of faith have shaped their lives, they are already planting the seeds of hope in their students, the children and the young people they encounter.