In a few short days, we will gather to celebrate the holiest day in the church year. Easter is the defining celebration for all Christians because of the miracle of the Resurrection and Christ’s deliverance of all humanity.
We have celebrated Easter for two millennia. Because it is steeped in family traditions we all hold dear and comforting routines we come to expect and relish, it is easy to take its powerful message for granted, or to treat it as a commemoration and not, in the language of our media age, a “live” event.
Yet Easter is as alive and relevant for us today as it was on that very first Easter Sunday. Christ rises from humanity’s despair into new life, again and again, for each of us. He delivers us every single moment of our lives, offering his love and saving grace like a rescuer with outstretched hands.
This message of hope that Easter proclaims is never more relevant or more healing than when turmoil and troubles come our way. Times such as now.
In these recent years, headlines have sparked despair and pessimism. Battles afar still take the ones we love. The modern threat of terrorism always seems to lurk like a prowler in the dark shadows. Seemingly unending street violence in our own communities stuns and saddens us. Our economy stumbles. People have seen their hard-earned savings dwindle and disappear. Others have lost their jobs, and the poor and the vulnerable grow in number. These can frighten even the most optimistic of us and push us into that unfortunate trap of counting our troubles rather than our many blessings.
It is an easy trap to fall into. After a steady diet of bad news bombards us, communicated at lightning speed these days 24 hours a day and seven days a week, the very future can seem dimmer than it was before. Many a parent indeed worries about the world their children will inherit.
Matthew, Mark and John, all the disciples, also worried and doubted on that fearful night the soldiers took the Lord away to the cross. Jesus had warned them many times that it would get very dark before the new day would dawn. The gloom at the rapidly unfolding events in Jerusalem must have rolled into their lives like dark storm clouds in the sky. As Jesus was abused and dragged away, how they must have felt, these women and men who loved him, that life would never be the same.
But take heart! The words Jesus spoke so long ago resonate still in each and every one of our lives.
“Be not afraid … I am with you always.”
And he was and is.
The sunlight that lit up the dark tomb and revealed the Resurrection is as bright and warming for us as it was that very first Easter morning for the first disciples.
Easter offers us not only hope for our time, but for an eternity. I pray that all of you will think about this when you wake up on Easter morning.
Whatever pain or worry entombs you, whatever sin, addiction, memory or doubt keeps you from living this marvelous life to its fullest, know that the miracle we celebrate on Easter is now, for you, and that the bright light of hope that is our Risen Lord will never be extinguished.
Jesus is with us. “He is risen, just as he said!” the angel proclaims in confidence and joy.
And in the words of St. Augustine, “And He departed from our sight that we might return to our heart, and there find Him. For He departed, and behold, He is here.”
Peace to all, and a most Happy Easter!