The Relevance and Rewards of Easter Season: We Are An Easter People!
The season of Easter in our Church calendar does not only involve Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday (some of us may still not be aware of this), but it makes reference to the entire 50 long joyful days of Easter which lasts until Pentecost Sunday. Hence, the use of “Easter Season” instead of “Easter Sunday”.
The season of Easter is considered as the most important celebration in the Church calendar, in fact even more grand than Christmas and the other liturgical seasons such as Advent, Ordinary Time, Lent, and the Three Days. This is what our Church authorities and theologians taught us, that Easter (the Lord’s resurrection) is the most important of all the feasts and solemnities celebrated by church. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (489) states that: The Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ is the crowning truth of our faith in Christ, a faith believed and lived as the central truth by the first Christian community; handed on as fundamental by Tradition; established by the documents of the New Testament; and preached as an essential part of the Paschal mystery along with the cross.
When I was teaching the middle-school/elementary kids about the liturgical calendar of the Catholic Church, I have always been keen on this, particularly the Easter Season because they thought all along that Easter pertains only to Easter Sunday which involves, you know what I mean, the fun activities of egg-hunting and related stuff for young boys and girls! But mind you, even with these teachings on the deeper meaning of Easter, the kids were still able to experience egg-hunting (painted eggs which were kept in every nooks and crannies of the classroom) and some chocolates for fun’s sake – a small gesture of rewarding them for being good!
Definitely, however, Easter goes beyond the bunnies, baskets, candies and egg hunting. You see, there are joyful and meaningful rewards that Easter season provides to our lives, particularly on the spiritual aspect of it, based on the Holy Scripture, the Church teachings/pronouncements and studies/interpretations of scholars and theologians, as follows:
- That Jesus took away the sins of the world when He suffered and died on the cross – i.e, His redemptive sacrifice for all of us. With Christ’s Resurrection, we are freed from sin with an opportunity to to turn back to and establish a new friendship with God.
- That we have been re-born as God’s children/followers of Christ when we profess our faith with the renewal of Baptismal vow and pledge, responding to the meaningful questions posed to us by the officiating priest during the Easter Vigil or the Easter Sunday Mass. We are given chances to have new beginning, to start a new life, a new season of grace and a new joy.
- That life is worth living regardless of its imperfections and challenges, even in times of pain and sorrow. Despite all these, we can still get through it because the Resurrected Christ lives in our midst, in our minds and hearts, and gives us hope, encouragement and strength to withstand temptations and from unnecessary worries and fears. He loves us and grants us the blessings we need and what is best for us.
- That the message of the Risen Christ to all of us is to “Go out to the whole world; proclaim the Good News to all creation.” He wants us to proclaim and share our faith to others particularly those in need and those who do not know Him yet. Our Lord would like to see us out there, to the peripheries where people need to hear God’s Word, to proclaim our faith in the Risen Savior, by the way we live our lives. We are enjoined to help others find the truth about Jesus who is the Way, the Truth and the Life.
- That we have been identified as “Easter People”. As St. Pope John Paul II puts it, “we are an Easter people and Alleluia is our song!” As Easter people, we are expected to have a joyful and peaceful life, continuously experiencing the real presence of the Risen Lord, as much as possible, everyday of our lives. “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad (Psalm 118:24). God wants us to be the source of this kind of joy that comes from our faith for others. And this is the kind of faith and the flame of God’s love which provides us an “Easterly” feeling of joy and renewed spirit. This is where the second commandment comes in, to love our neighbors as we love ourselves, by showing others that the Risen Lord is living in our hearts, through our lives of love, mercy, and compassion. Doing so may not be easy but loving one’s neighbor in this age of time is a duty, a privilege and a blessing combined.
The joyful experience of the Easter gives us another opportunity to deepen our faith and it inspires us more to be better Christians after being forgiven of our past transgressions. And these deepening of faith and inspiration would require some concrete actions from us, both in words and deeds, as we serve as instruments of God to be the source of joy and the bundle of hope for others, our family, neighbors, friends, social media followers, co-workers and church mates particularly those in dire need of help.
Pope Francis, in one of his Easter messages, mentioned that Jesus Christ Resurrection offers hope for everyone in this world, despite the many acts of injustice, hatred and violence. The Holy Father implored that “the Risen Christ bring fruits of hope, peace, reconciliation, consolation, new life and wisdom to those who need and aspire for it, where there are deprivation and exclusion, hunger and unemployment; where there are migrants and refugees, so often rejected by today’s culture of waste, and victims of the drug trade, human trafficking and contemporary forms of slavery.” The Holy Father once stated in one of his tweets : “Our faith is born on Easter morning: Jesus is alive! The experience is at the heart of the Christian message.”
Indeed, Christ Resurrection is the heart of our Christian faith. The Risen Savior gives us the genuine hope that we’re hoping for, the gift of eternal life. No matter what we go through, whatever challenges we may face, the Risen Christ is always there for us. He is our Hope and Savior, He continually listens and lifts us up if we call on Him. The remaining days of Easter is opportune and timely for us to reflect on God’s presence. This is an opportunity for us to make His presence known and be experienced by everyone not only on Easter time but everyday of our lives. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. We have to go out of our comfort zones and tell others about this truth, that Jesus has Risen and is indeed Alive!
Happy Easter! With our Lord Jesus Christ Resurrection and during the Easter season, may we have an ardent desire to be holy in this life so as also to realize the season’s joyful and meaningful rewards. Wishing you and your loved ones all the blessings of the Risen Lord. Amen.