Every year Easter comes and Easter goes. What does it mean for us? Do we treat it with a certain indifference; does it carry significance and has it any real bearing on our lives. The truth that God raised Jesus from the dead is presented as the ultimate in the Christian experience but how does it impinge upon our personal experience?
This year because of Covid 19 it may mean a lot more than usual because it is we who have been on the way of the Cross and its not yet over. Our Easter still awaits and it is not fitting in neatly with our liturgical calendar.
We are inclined to think of Jesus resurrection as his victory over death that offers the reassurance that there is life beyond the grave. The older we get the more important that reassurance becomes.
Resurrection is certainly about the afterlife. One very elderly lady was asked if she believed in the hereafter and she said, ‘More and more as I get older. Whenever I bend down to pick something up I have to ask, what exactly am I here after.’ It’s not unusual when a discussion on the afterlife happens that someone will throw in the remark, ‘But how do we know, how can we be sure, no one has ever come back to tell us what’s out there. That person would usually profess to being a Catholic but in reality must have only paid lip service to the Resurrection. There was one who like Columbus in 1492 went beyond the known and returned to tell us of a whole new world. Up to Columbus’s time it was generally believed that the world was flat and that on a voyage westwards there was a point where you would sail over the edge and that was the end, it was the point of no return. By returning from the dead Jesus offered the hope of resurrected life to all his followers. With the eyes of faith we can now look at the grave no longer as a hole in the ground but as a doorway to new life.
It is no accident that we celebrate Easter at this time of year when the signs of new beginnings are all around us. The spring that has lay sleeping in the womb of winter has just been born. The light is coming to meet us as the hours of daylight are becoming greater and the hours of darkness becoming less. The trees that have been barren are beginning to put fort shoots and leaves. All around us death is giving way to new life. Nature itself sings its own Easter song.
Resurrection is really at the heart of life and is something we experience at so many times in our lives. This present time of crisis in particular offers great resurrection possibilities. It is only when we are forced out of our comfort zone that we awaken to deeper realities. We now stand at one of the most critical and yet highly teachable moments in history.
Each of us is going through a process of grief just now. We are grieving for who we thought we were and not so sure of who we really are. We are grieving for life as we knew it and have a sense it may never be quite the same again. We are grieving for the normal touches of love and affection that make us human. When we grieve for a loved one and having allowed ourselves to experience all the emotions that are part of that process we then come to a deep awareness that they are now more with us than they ever were because they are with us in spirit. That is Resurrection. Sometimes we encounter obstacles that don’t go away no matter how much we pray or wish them to disappear. Yet from somewhere we find the strength to cope and rise above them. Some problems persist but we do manage to outgrow them. Is that not a foretaste of resurrection?
When we find ourselves in conflict with someone and remain with the difficult process of seeking understanding it often appears that all is lost but just then a light of awareness shines out of nowhere and everything comes back on track – Is that not a beautiful Resurrection moment?
On Easter morning a stone was rolled away from the tomb. If I were to think of my heart as the tomb could there be a stone across that prevents me from experiencing a fuller and more satisfying life?
Finally it’s no harm to remember that Easter is not just about Jesus and his Resurrection, but it is also about me being called to be an Easter person and to realize all the good I can do. A kind encouraging word can help bring a person through a dark valley in their lives. A bit of consolation can lift up someone bowed low in sorrow. We were not put here to make money; to acquire status or reputation. We were sent here to search for the light of Easter in our hearts and when we find it to share it generously. The light of Easter needs to dawn first in our own experience and as we celebrate it ourselves to offer possibilities of new beginnings to those who find themselves still stuck in Good Friday and think that to be the end of the story. To be the light, and sometimes to hold the light for those who are in darkness, is both the challenge and the privilege of being an Easter person.