Easter is not just Easter Sunday. Easter starts with the service of light at the Easter Vigil and ends with Evening Prayer 2 of Pentecost. The unique liturgical feature of the Easter season is the singing of alleluia and the lighted Easter candle.
Many of us Catholics do not recognise this. To speak about Easter is to speak about our whole Christian religion. It means Jesus is alive! The (whole) Church collectively lives by this proclamation. As individual members we must be able to speak out of our personal experience that “Jesus lives – I know Him”. Easter therefore means Jesus gives new life to those who believe in Him. This new life comes through death. Therefore Easter celebrates the fact that Jesus is alive now. That is why the Eucharist is called a “Memorial”, not only a recalling of what happened, but making present now what happened then. This season is a time of joy, since, by his rising from the dead, Jesus gives meaning to our life of exile. It ends our alienation from God and promises us a life of genuine happiness in perfect union with God our Father. We rejoice because we realise that we are not walking the pathway of life alone. Jesus is alive. He is with us personally and individually – more fully, more completely than ever before in history. We are filled with joy because Jesus is with us assisting us, encouraging us, strengthening us for every task in life. We are filled with genuine Christian joy because we know that Jesus suffered all the pain, sorrow, hardships that we experience today. He is with us as our Healer, our Redeemer, and our Saviour.
The Easter message is that we, like Jesus, can rise to new life, not in some distant time, but in the here and now. We, like Jesus, must die to the old ways, so that we can break free from all that limits us. We, like Jesus, are called to celebrate all the richness and bitterness life has to offer – and in so doing, we ourselves become bread for the world, signs of God’s presence among us.
Easter holds the promise that there is a power stronger than death, the power of the very Breath of Life. Ironically, while we cling to this promise when loved ones die or when we ourselves confront our own mortality, we tend to forget that Easter is also about the present moment. In fact, the “little deaths” involved in daily living are more challenging to many of us than thoughts of physical death. Just as the risen Lord left behind an empty tomb, so we too, need to break free of burial cloths and all that binds us in the here and now. Too often, we – the living – are entrapped by tombs of our own making. Too often we – the living – settle for the dust of death instead of liberating Breath of Life.
Easter invites us to roll back the metaphorical stones that hold us captive and to embrace the light of day. Easter assures us that our God – the God of the living – is to be found in moments of celebration, as well as in moments of loss.
We can think of the Resurrection as hope for society, for the world and hope for ourselves. Life has meaning. God can enter our lives and raise them to beyond just drab existence.
We know that God works in our lives – bringing us from death to life in the same way that He worked in Jesus’ life. What is meant by this? It means that in all the frustrations, disappointments, crises, hurts, anxieties and loneliness – different forms of death that we experience – God gives us the strength to rise above these. Anyone who continually tries to overcome these challenges has grasped the meaning of Easter.
This is true for peoples and societies and especially for us here in Trinidad & Tobago. What we must do is to move from death – lack of appreciation, of divisiveness, of fragmentation, inequality in the distribution of the wealth of the country – and move on to the new life of being ourselves, bringing together the separate elements into unity, creating a society which is free and just and where people can rejoice in themselves and what they can do.
The Resurrection of Jesus teaches us that:
- Jesus is truly the Son of God
- We also shall rise again
– Ruby Nelson, Archdiocesan Catechetical Office