With no regard for his own safety, he discarded his jacket and some of his equipment and jumped into the water. He did not know who the people were who were struggling in the water. He did not know why they were risking their lives by trying to cross the river. He did not know whether they were trying to get to a better life or were attempting to smuggle drugs into the USA. All he knew was that they were in deep trouble. So he jumped into the water to save them. Three days later his body was recovered from the water. The Rio Grande River had taken his life. He had given his very life for strangers. As the Bible tells us, “Greater love hath no one than to lay down one’s life for others.” Truly this man named Bishop Evans, a Texas National Guardsman, will rise again on that great day of resurrection.
On April 17 we celebrated the Resurrection of Jesus, born in an animal shelter in the town of Bethlehem in Judea. Jesus grew up as an apprentice in the carpenter’s shop of His foster father, Joseph, and was nurtured by His mother, Mary. Still a young man, He recruited a team of fishermen and others and went about the countryside preaching the coming of the Kingdom of God. His central message was love of God and love of neighbor. He was the fulfillment of the long-awaited Messiah, though many would not accept Him as such. Indeed, the religious leaders, seeing that the ordinary people flocked to hear Him and to follow Him, plotted to kill Him. One day they would succeed, and He would die on a shameful cross outside Jerusalem. Yet, as He had told His disciples, on the third day He rose from the tomb of death. So, we now celebrate with, “He is Risen.”
As happens here in Kalaupapa each spring, while the heavenly breezes rustle the branches of the palm trees, the plumeria trees show their colorful blossoms and come into full bloom, reminding us that nature has awakened and is coming into fullness of life again. At the same time, we Christians celebrate the rising of Jesus Christ from the tomb of death. Jesus gave His life for all human beings, saints and sinners. It is good that we acclaim Bishop Evans as a hero of our time and Damien de Veuster and Marianne Cope as saints and it is good that we acclaim and celebrate Jesus Christ as a hero for all time. He is risen. He is truly risen. Aloha.
Anchor columnist Father Killilea is pastor of St. Francis Church in Kalaupapa, Hawaii.