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“Are there any who are devout lovers of God? Let them enjoy this beautiful bright festival!
Are there any who are grateful servants? Let them rejoice and enter into the joy of their Lord!
Are there any weary with fasting? Let them now receive their wages!
If any have toiled from the first hour, let them receive their due reward;
If any have come after the third hour, let him with gratitude join in the Feast!”
That is the beginning of a homily given by St. John Chrysostom on Easter some 1600 years ago. And it closes,
“Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!
Christ is Risen, and the evil ones are cast down!
Christ is Risen, and the angels rejoice!
Christ is Risen, and life is liberated!”
What a call for joyful celebration! St. John beautifully laid out a course for Christians to celebrate Our Lord’s victory over sin and death. This call for a feast is almost impossible to resist. As we journey through the Easter Octave, eight days of celebrating the Lord’s resurrection, how can we prayerfully continue to incorporate the joy of these days into our lives? Why was Jesus’s resurrection the most important event of Salvation history?
Josh Raymond welcomed Father Marcel Taillon onto The Inner Life to talk about living out the triumphant joyfulness of this season and what Easter means to us as Catholics.
Father Marcel began the conversation by talking about why Easter is the pinnacle of the Christian faith. If it didn’t happen, we would all be wasting our time. “If the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ did not happen, then we should just close the churches. It’s really the foundation,” said Father.
But how do we know that it happened? From the accounts of those who were too scared to stand with Jesus at His final hour. After His death, Christians underwent a tremendous amount of persecution, being hunted, tortured, and crucified. So naturally, those who were closest to Jesus went into hiding. They denied Him for fear of death and suffering. But after Christ’s resurrection and apparition to many, something changed. How is that so? They had been with Him for 3 long years, hearing Him teach, watching Him perform miracles. Why was this different? Because it was the ultimate victory: Jesus showed us that death is not the end.
That’s why, as Father Marcel pointed out, we celebrate Easter every Sunday. We celebrate birthdays once a year. We celebrate Christmas once a year. We celebrate anniversaries and commemorations once a year. But every Sunday, when we gather before God in His house, we witness Jesus’s sacrifice and celebrate His conquest over sin and death. We don’t even celebrate other saints’ feast days on Sunday out of respect and honor for the resurrection. “The whole liturgical calendar bows to Christ and His resurrection. It’s all about Christ,” said Father Marcel.
So, it’s no wonder that we have eight days set aside to commemorate the integral events that took place after Our Lord’s passion and death. We have just been shown that though our bodies may die, we can look forward to “the resurrection of the body and life everlasting”, as professed in our creed.
That is why the Easter season, or Eastertide, is 50 days. That period from Easter Sunday to Pentecost Sunday is intentionally longer than the penitent period leading up to it because the ultimate emphasis should be placed on rejoicing in God’s triumph.
For more segments like this, tune in to The Inner Life weekdays at 11am CT