It’s too late now – you’ve paid your fare. Too bad if it’s a wasted journey. If there’s cloud at the top and you don’t get to see anything. So you clunk up the mountain on this cog railway, through the tropical forest, where you’re blessedly sheltered from the worst – or best – of the heat. Then up in a lift for the next few hundred metres. And on by escalator to the top, where – oh joy! – there’s not a cloud in sight.
So you can see it all: mountains, forests, rivers, lakes, the great, curving bay, and below, the sprawling city of Rio. But even that isn’t the point of your journey, for towering above you is the wonder you’ve come to see: the statue they call Cristo Redentor – 38 metres high, all 1,145 tons of open-armed Redeemer, overlooking the city and the sea.
One of the eight modern wonders of the world, they proudly tell you. For the Brazilians are like that. From the “beautiful game” to a booming economy, they aim to be nothing but the best. And this icon stands for their best.
It’s a figure that is visible for miles. But also recognised worldwide. For who doesn’t know what’s meant by open arms? Isn’t it the simplest sign of welcome that we have? Doesn’t it stand for friendship and love? To love and be loved, isn’t that the basic need in us all?
But of course the statue is more than that, more than a mere human gesture. For it reminds us of that other symbol, of the Cross. It spells out the bigger truth about love, that love is not just an easy emotion – it can be hard and costly as well – easy to open your arms to your friend, but what of the enemy or stranger?
It tells us that love is a bit like a coin, double-sided. One side is the joy of loving. The other is the cost of loving, the giving away of yourself – whether it be the soldier going to war, or our daily care of one another, building bridges, forgiving.
And that is the Easter story. On Good Friday, God, who is love, shows us forever the cost of his unchanging love for his world. And Easter Sunday shows us that no power, not even death, can break that bond of love. Cause for celebration? No wonder we say, Happy Easter!
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