What Is Easter To Us?
“They were filled with amazement” (Acts 3:10).
There are different levels of amazement, from happy surprise to earth-shaking wonder. Some experiences can only be described as encounters with God. Something transcendent has touched our lives and changed everything, especially the way we see reality itself.
When Peter and John healed the cripple at the gates of the Temple, the man first walked, then began to leap in the air as he accompanied them, praising God at the top of his voice. Something amazing had happened. For most of his life he was like a man unborn who now leaps in the womb at the signal that a whole new life is about to begin for him. After years of being trapped in his paralyzed body, he is suddenly brought to life and liberated.
The two disciples fleeing Jerusalem after the disastrous events of Good Friday are turned around by a stranger who opens their minds and their eyes to the resurrection. They are transformed, and they race back to Jerusalem to tell the others they have seen Jesus on the road and in the breaking of the bread. Hearts broken by disappointment and despair now burn again with joy to see the secret plan God had hidden all along in the Law and the prophets.
The church provides 50 days after Easter for us to engage the mystery of the resurrection and its implications for us. This may be because at first it seems like just a spiritual idea or something that happened long ago to Jesus. What difference does it make to me? Is resurrection only about what happens after we die? Or is it somehow a present opportunity to open ourselves to a continual sense of wonder and amazement at what God is doing for us and, through us, to others?
Appropriating the power of Easter faith is, like all spiritual growth, a gradual process of insight, awareness and even experimentation. Can we go beyond ourselves and our usual routines to love and serve others in new and greater ways? If Easter faith has removed from us the shadow of ultimate death, what new risks are we willing to take to accompany and advocate for those who are more vulnerable than we are? Do we really believe that Jesus is hidden among the poor and in the most vulnerable? Can we see his face in the poor, hoping we will stop to acknowledge him and stop show him some compassion?
If Easter is only a beautiful idea or a liturgical season that coincides with spring, it will quickly fade from our minds until next year. But if Easter is something we experience each day, then our lives will be filled with amazement. For if our hearts are open and we ask for it, God will invite us into the mystery of Jesus and the joy of the Holy Spirit.