It’s Easter! Alleluia was proclaimed. Family and friends gathered and the Easter ham was eaten. Easter baskets and eggs were hidden and found. Copious amounts of Easter candy devoured and the kids are back in school recovering from all of the sugar and excitement. It may seem like that’s a wrap, the end of Easter. Now it’s time to take down the decorations and put away the fancy dishes. Easter is over until next year and our minds begin to shift to the next event or holiday.
The reality is the celebration has just begun. Did you know that in fact, Easter is actually fifty days long? The Easter season begins on Easter Sunday and goes all of the way until Pentecost. It is considered the greatest liturgical season in the Church, lasting ten days longer than Lent. For the forty days of Lent, we pray and fast. We sacrifice, deny ourselves, and draw closer to our suffering and crucified Lord. We make amends and strive to purify our hearts.
At the end of our Lenten journey, which at times seems to be unending, we are reminded of the promise. Easter arrives, Christ is risen and we rejoice! Our hearts are filled with hope. The buried “A” word, Alleluia, is sung and proclaimed. We celebrate, He has risen as He said. He has risen indeed. Death is defeated. The gates of heaven now opened and new life is given for all.
The hope is ours. After every Good Friday, comes Easter Sunday. Easter doesn’t come without the cross or without suffering. Nor can we truly experience the fullness of Easter joy without first walking the road to Calvary with our Lord, without first uniting our own pain to that of Christ’s. In the end, though, we know how the story goes. No matter how long the Good Friday lasts, Easter joy will come. In the end, the glory of the resurrected Lord outlasts the pain. The promise is given to us. Death is conquered and Christ has won the victory, which will never end.
During this beautiful Easter season, become present in the mystery. Pause for a moment. Stay by the tomb. Look inside and see. Behold and be amazed by the power of God. Experience the glory and bask in the light. Run with the disciples to proclaim the good news. Let your soul rejoice as he calls your name. Walk with him on the road to Emmaus and allow your hearts to burn within. Recognize him in the breaking of the bread. Put your hand in his resurrected wounds and believe.
We are aware of darkness and sin, of poverty and pain. But we know Jesus has conquered sin and passed through his own pain to the glory of the Resurrection. And we live in the light of his Paschal Mystery – the mystery of his Death and Resurrection. “We are an Easter People and Alleluia is our song!”
St. John Paul II, Sunday Angelus 1986