Easter Sunday is with us again! Is it with a sigh of relief that we have a ‘break’ at this time of the year? Has the subtle autumn morning chill this week, reminded us that times and seasons are changing? The Easter Liturgy speaks in harmony with Spring in the Northern Hemisphere; here we are ‘Down Under’in Australia celebrating new life, while the Willow leaves are starting to die, and the Liquid Amber trees are showing signs of colour changes in their leaves, before they drop to the ground.
Resurrection implies new life! This is the gift we receive every morning when we wake up! Today is a totally different day from yesterday. Part of something being a gift is that someone gives, someone else receives, and there is no price tag attached. If there is a snag, it is that God gives me nothing for myself! If God gives me the gift of life today, it is because I can be a life-giving person to someone else. The Easter Liturgy celebrates the Father re breathing ‘life’ into His Son, and that ‘new life’ is to be shared among all people, and by all people.
Easter is about hope; it is unthinkable that a Christian should ever entertain the ideas of hopelessness, even when we live in a world, which thrives, and makes money on bad news! Jesus triumphed over darkness, sin and death, and in the words of St. Paul, ‘having given us Christ Jesus, will the Father not surely give us everything else?’ There is a tremendous need for people of hope in today’s world, and in today’s Church, because the doomsday prophets have never had it so good! The ongoing threats of terrorism all over the world, puts everyone on ‘edge’! St. Peter wrote these words to the early Christian community:
‘Always have an explanation to give to those who ask you the reason for the hope that you have.’ Peter had experienced, witnessed, and lived through many a failure, so his point about hope is deeply relevant. I am sure that he is not alone in this regard… no doubt, we can identify with him.
Easter time is a reminder of our Baptismal responsibilities. We have very real signs of that within our communities in the welcoming and admission of our Elect. We are therefore reminded strongly, that we must be a community of hospitality, a community of mission, and a community of thanksgiving and joy. Underpinning all that, we are as St Paul’s says, ‘planted on love and built on love, so that together with all the Saints we will have the strength to grasp the breadth and the length, the height and the depth; until knowing the love of Christ, which is beyond all knowledge, we are filled with the utter fullness of God.’ Ephesians 3:18.
Easter time in not a ‘one off occasion’ to celebrate Christ Our Light! Easter time offers an enormous challenge to everyone. Do we personally believe in the community, which we call the Church, to that point of wanting to really know, and care about each other? Or are we sometimes tempted to see the Sacramental life of the Church as some kind of Spiritual Service Station, where we fill up every now and then, tap and go? The Sacramental Community nourishes us, and we are called to nourish it by our active participation and genuine outreach to newcomers! We must be passionate about belonging to the Body of Christ which is called the Church! We must be people who can inspire and be inspired; we must be motivated and urged along, because of the love of Christ which has been freely given to us….not just for ourselves, by a long shot; but to invite, and be Christ’s loving face, in a world that frowns so often. The Passion and Cross of Jesus, is the greatest Sign of God’s love for us, according to St. Paul of the Cross.
In the Second Reading for the liturgy of the Lord’s Passion, we hear the author of the Letter to the Hebrews reminding us that Jesus learnt obedience through suffering and in silent tears! That means that Jesus learnt to truly listen to His Father’s Will, and also to the woes and joys of God’s people. Easter is the greatest invitation to listen with our body mind and spirit to God’s Word, inviting us through Scripture, Sacramental experience and Christ’s living Body; His people! Our Liturgy must never be just cold rubrics, as though we are reading a Recipe to make a cake! Liturgy by its very nature speaks about everyone being involved in Sacramental experiences which can be understood, engaging and sustaining, so that we are then ‘sent out’ in Mission, and return next week for more nourishment with the community.
We must be a living community which breathes Christ; and is energized by His Spirit-filled breath. We must never fall into the trap of just maintaining ‘the plant’ like that of a Corporation; we must never be smug enough to think that WE have all the answers, and are fearful of constructive conversations with all people, from all races and creeds on earth. We must never be people who think that they see God’s will only in Black and White and Mono sound! God’s will is manifested in living colour, surround sound, and in 3D.
Easter, invites us to be daring and confident, without being arrogant and pompous in Christ’s mission, entrusted to us as foot washers! How can anyone speak the truth in love, without listening to the truth in humility? The Easter message, by value of the very meaning of the word Easter, means that we all must be creative, innovative and spirit-filled as we grow in our Communities, and as the living body Christ, see new horizons and dream new dreams! No one can be left isolated, unwanted and devalued; we in Parish communities did not choose each other, we have been randomly placed within each other’s care, and pastoral concern, always respecting cultural norms.
We pray that through this Easter Season, we will be stronger in our hope, lively in our love for one another, and sensitive to see, with the eyes of faith, the saving hand of God in our lives and within our community. God Bless you and your families.
Fr Kevin Walsh