++ Easter Message++
From Anne-Louise DePalo
EASTER SUNDAY REFLECTION
“I shall not die but live and shall declare the works of the Lord.” Psalm 118:18
A Blessed Resurrection Day to all! Easter is finally here. The word Easter is of an unknown origin. Venerable Saint Bede in the eighth century said it was derived from Eostre or Eostrae, the Anglo-Saxon word for goddess of spring and fertility. Easter flowers, Easter bunnies, and eggs are all a celebration of rebirth, regrowth, and fertility. We are an Easter people and it is time for great joy!
How was your Lent and Holy week? Are you ready and prepared for rebirth and spiritual growth? Has your prayer, fasting, and almsgiving nurtured your body and soul so that seeds of faith, love, and charity can grow? Have you grown closer to Christ? This is the purpose of Lent. Now we celebrate Easter, and not only Easter Sunday itself but we celebrate the entire Easter season. Easter is 50 days – the longest liturgical season on the calendar. Fifty days to celebrate, enjoy, love, and praise. How I love our faith and traditions!
What are we celebrating? New life. The readings of Lent and our Lenten practices ask us to confront “death”. Jesus describes Jarius’s daughter as only sleeping before he brings her back to life. Lazarus was dead and buried in a tomb. Christ rose him from the dead and had him leave the tomb, untying him and freeing him from the chains of sin, death, and this world.
It is said one cannot truly live unless they confront their own death. What is death? The catechism tells us it is the separation of the body and soul. Death, however, does not have the last word. Our souls are eternal.
Paradoxically, we can be dead while we are alive. If we do not have Christ’s love and grace, and we are not in communion with Him, we are as dead as Lazarus. Without Christ’s “life” within us, we are the walking dead among the living.
If you are full of anxiety, sadness, and despair, have no joy, and are fearful, you need a resurrection. Christ came to bring us life and to overcome sin (that which takes us away from life) by His death on the cross. If you truly believe, you will be able to say, “Death, be not proud,” as the poet John Donne proclaimed.
Christ is the victor over sin and death – if you do not embrace this truth, you will have no life in you. Death cannot touch our eternal souls, and that is what we celebrate today and in the next 50 days. Mediate on the words of John Donne:
“One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
and death shall be no more;
death shall die.”
If you have never seen “Death, Be Not Proud” a 1975 movie based on John Gunther’s book about his battle with a brain tumor starring Robbie Benson, Arthur Hill, and Jean Alexander, I highly recommend it. It portrays a teenage boy’s struggle with illness, death, and making the most of the time he had left. He continued to love and had concern for those around him, particularly his parents. It left an indelible impression on me when I first watched it when I was young; and as I have grown in faith, lost loved ones, and grown older it has more meaning than ever.
What I have learned is this: I desire to celebrate and embrace life and give life to others. That is what Peter tells Jesus’ followers in the first reading in Acts 10:42, “and He commanded us to preach to the people that it is He who was appointed by God.” This is so all may have life. This is our faith. This is our role as disciples of Christ. To love God and others and be life-givers.
Perhaps Francis Gunther said it best when writing about the loss of her son said, “I wish we had loved Johnny more when he was alive.”
Who can you love and celebrate today? To life!