What is Easter?

When I was visiting the Kindergarten children last week, I asked them what Easter was all about. Without hesitation, they all cried out, “TheEaster Bunny!” I tried again and asked, “But what do we DO on Easter Sunday?” The immediate answer: “Go Easter egg hunting!” I gave up. I don’t know if Jesus can compete with the Easter Bunny. Easter means different things to different people. For some, it is a vacation. Others, a backyard BBQ. A family get together. No sport tournaments to drive the kids to. A chance to sleep in. A time to relax. It is all this and more. How do we describe Easter? Resurrection? New life? Hope in the future? Life after death? It is all this and more. In the gospels, John, Peter, Mary and others all saw troubling things, symbols of death. An empty tomb. Abandoned burial wrappings. An earthquake. A huge rock rolled aside. Guards paralyzed with fear. A young man in the tomb, with dazzling garments. But they were able to look into the depth of these “troubling things” and perceive the resurrected Christ. Urged on by the angels not to be fearful, their faith led them to see within all this disturbing evidence what was really  going on. New life had entered the world. We are all surrounded with “troubling things” in our lives. Reservations in life’s direction. Perhaps a divorce, a death, an illness, a lost job, a difficult family situation. Misgivings about the direction of our world or of our own country. Troubling events that threaten us with sadness, mistrust, or even death. But can we instead, like the disciples at the tomb, look into the heart of life around us and see the presence of Christ calling us to new life? Can we hear the angels telling us that we should not give in to fear? Or best: Can we possess the insight of Mary Magdalene who, while weeping in the garden, blind with grief, heard Jesus call her tenderly by name. “Mary.” I pray that Easter be for all of us a time to see beneath the surface of things, to see what’s REALLY going on: Resurrection, all around us. I pray that Easter be a time for us to listen, for the Lord is calling us each by name to new life.

FR. JIM

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