Six weeks of Lent, one week of ‘Holy Week’ and three days of what felt like non-stop Liturgy have brought us to the climax of the Christian year – Easter Sunday. There is no more important day than today – for if Jesus has not been raised from the dead, we quite simply would not be here today. Easter is no one-day wonder, but a celebration so big that it requires over 40 days of preparation (Lent) and 50 days of celebration (the Easter Season).
Now there will be challenges in this. For the first disciples it took 50 days just to get their heads around the fact that a) Jesus was not dead but alive, that b) he had forgiven them for messing up on Good Friday, and c) that he still wanted to them to be his disciples. Eventually they ‘got it’, and we will celebrate them ‘getting it’ on Pentecost Sunday (which is, funnily enough, in exactly 50 days’ time).
So what’s our task for the next 50 days? Quite simply, it is to look beyond present worries, hardships, difficulties (which is not easy when we are in the middle of them) to see that we are part of something much bigger than us. We are followers of the Risen Christ, he is with us, and we share his new life. The Cross may still be present in our lives (just as it is behind the Altar here in church), but Christ’s dying and rising again have transformed the cross from a symbol of meaningless futility into a sign of hope. Our own crosses are still very real, but they are not meaningless or futile or entirely devoid of value. Christ does not take away human suffering, but transforms into it a path that embraced, or at least endured with love, leads to new life.
Practically speaking, the challenge of Easter is to learn how to celebrate life, whenever, wherever, and in whoever we find it. To see in the world and in each other – and within ourselves, the goodness and love of God.
May God bless you and your loved ones with the most wonderful and happy Easter! Fr. Philip