May this Easter be a time of deepened faith and of great joy! Jesus Christ is risen from the dead!
We celebrate Easter a bit later this year, and so we have had more of Lent during the month of April. I am glad that we had this time to prepare. I know that the season of Lent is a time for special prayer, fasting and giving of alms to those in need. It has a somber quality to it. But I am reminded that the word, “Lent,” actually means springtime.
Every spring, I experience the budding of desire and hope. The trees begin to sprout fresh leaves, the grass gets green and flowers begin to bloom. Spring is a time of hope. Father Raniero Cantalamessa gave a beautiful retreat to the U.S. bishops this past January in Chicago. He began one talk by telling us how he hates the cold. While acknowledging that temperatures are often similar in November and in March, he described a difference with the March cold. He said, “March weather reminds me that cold has hope.” Spring is around the corner.
There is a deep Easter lesson here. Lent is meant to give rise to and purify our desire … our longing. In his Lenten message, Pope Francis quotes from St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans, chapter 8 verse 19: “For creation awaits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God.” Just as springtime reveals the beauty, goodness and truth of God’s magnificent creation, so too, Easter stirs up in us that lively faith that recognizes and rejoices in Jesus, who died for our sins and is now risen. He has truly risen! Pope Francis calls Lent the preparation for the “precious gift of God’s mercy.”
Evil and sin have marred God’s creation. Both the violence and the evil around us as well as the selfishness and sin in our souls cry out for a savior. We need God’s mercy.
We all know the experience of longing and yearning. When my vacation nears, excitement builds. As much as I love vacations, however, it seems that the yearning is always greater than the final result. With Easter and with the final Easter of our lives — when after our death we rise with Christ — I deeply believe that the opposite will happen. Our expectations will pale in relation to the reality of the light of God’s presence! Then, our alleluia will be complete.
Our theology says that heaven actually can begin on earth. When you meet a saint, you realize that there is a quality of joy in that person that is not earthly. It is of heaven.
Together let us cast off darkness. As we prepare for that heavenly home beyond our expectations, let us beseech the Lord for the grace to allow Easter to enter our lives — in the way we worship our God, in the way we join with each other in the Risen Christ in His body, the Church, and in our care for one another and for our common home, the Earth.
May you and your family have a Blessed Easter!