In 1996 John Paul II during this very time stated, “We are an Easter people and Alleluia is our song!” Profound words from one of the greatest evangelists of our time. What do these profound words mean?
Before we can know what these words truly mean for us today, we must stop and reflect on the beautiful life, death, and resurrection of our Lord and Savior. Unless we have had the opportunity to travel to the Holy Land and see those beautiful places where these events truly happened it is hard for us living in today’s world to truly grasp the miracle that occurred. I have several friends who have had the opportunity to take such a pilgrimage. They have commented on seeing the Garden where Jesus spent much time praying, especially the night of His arrest. They were able to walk the same mountain of Golgotha that Jesus walked to His death 2000 years ago. At the end of this walk is a beautiful church to pray and adore Jesus called, The Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Inside this beautiful church (which I have only seen through images) is the very place Christ was crucified and the tomb in which Jesus was buried. You can pray at both places and people have had profound experiences doing just that. People ponder the pain staking death of Jesus and can experience the hopelessness of Jesus’ mother and apostles as they rolled the stone in front of the tomb that Friday afternoon. However, many people, including myself have not had that opportunity, so we imagine what that experience must have been like. We can not smell the smells or touch the dirt, but we CAN still experience the miracle. So how do we do that?
We know that the story does not end with the death of Jesus, at the end of the story Jesus comes back to not only His mother and followers, but to us too! We can experience these same emotions that Mary and the apostles did as we celebrate the Easter Triduum. We walk with Jesus from the garden to His arrest, to His scourging, to His crucifixion, and finally to his death. We are sorrowful, we have a feeling of loss and even grief. However, the night of the Easter Vigil Jesus returns…He rises from the dead and turns the world on its head! How amazing is our Lord! Mary and the apostles saw firsthand the miracle, but we have the opportunity to relive that miracle forever! What a gift!
Easter changes everything for Christians everywhere and for all time. For the apostles…it changes their moods, their priorities, their actions, and their entire lives. It should do the same for us! Easter is not about bunnies, it is not about egg hunts, and it’s certainly not about chocolate (though I love chocolate!). Does going to Mass on Holy Thursday, Good Friday service, Stations of the Cross, Easter Vigil make us Easter people? It’s a start, but it’s not an end game! Easter is not just one day…there’s an entire octave of Easter and the Easter season is 8 weeks…It’s a HUGE deal! Do we make it a huge deal in our lives? If not, I challenge you to do so!
Did we let the Triduum transform us the way that it transformed the apostle’s lives? What does the Resurrection of our Lord mean to me? Does it change me? During Lent we slow down, reflect on our life and offer more prayer and sacrifice…Do we carry that growth into the Easter season, or do we let go of everything we worked on during those six weeks and think nothing more about what Jesus did for us? During this Easter season we should be clinging to the closeness that Jesus desires from each of us! He wants to see us in Mass, He wants to give Himself to us in the Eucharist, and He wants us to meet Him in adoration. Jesus wants us to know that He is with us too! Jesus desires to heal our grief the same way that He healed the apostles.
John Paul II ended that beginning quote by saying, “Christ’s resurrection is the strength, the secret of Christianity. It is not a question of mythology or of mere symbolism, but of a concrete event. It is confirmed by sure and convincing proofs. The acceptance of this truth, although the fruit of the Holy Spirit’s grace, rests at the same time on a solid historical base. On the threshold of the third millennium, the new effort of evangelization can begin only from a renewed experience of this Mystery, accepted in faith, and witnessed to in life.” Does my life reflect this mystery? If not, what changes do I need to make?