Easter Monday has often been a day of getting “back to the real world.” Back to work. Back to school. Perhaps traveling back to where I live after spending Easter somewhere else.
Sure, I knew that the Resurrection was kind of a big deal. I guess I knew that Easter Sunday was just the beginning of a 50-day liturgical season. Still, after gritting my teeth in trying to give something up for the 40 days of Lent, oftentimes I wasn’t ready to even think about starting something that would take even longer.1
All too often, I have started my “ordinary time” 50 days before the church’s Ordinary Time.
We Jesuits aren’t known for our humility, and I’m particularly guilty of bragging about other Jesuits. Not surprisingly, I found it pretty darn cool to see Fr. James Martin’s article about the Resurrection in the Wall Street Journal all over my Facebook feed.
But even cooler is what my brother Jesuit points to: Christ is risen. And that changes everything. He writes:
Easter means that nothing is impossible with God. Moreover, that life triumphs over death. Love triumphs over hatred. Hope triumphs over despair. And that suffering is not the last word.
But this celebration also comes with a task — or, rather, tasks:
And if he is Lord, and if you’re a Christian, then what he says has a claim on you. His teachings are invitations, to be sure, but they are also commands: Love your neighbors. Forgive. Care for the poor and the marginalized. Live a simple life. Put the needs of others before your own.
Upon reading the truth that Fr. Martin points to, I’m tempted to try to grit my teeth and prepare for a 50-day spiritual battle.
That would fail miserably.
My Lenten striving often doesn’t work out too well; it’s usually too much about me. 50 days of more of the same wouldn’t work.
Fortunately, however, Easter isn’t a season of gritting your teeth and clenching your fists, but one of rejoicing, receiving, and then yes, responding.
Life has triumphed over death. Love over hatred. Hope over despair.
Rather than giving something up during this season, I can remember the people who have forgiven me and then try to give new life to others. I can call to mind the love I’ve received and try to pay it forward. I can continue to go back to the hope the Resurrection offers and find myself living differently.
And if my Easter plans fizzle as fast as my Lenten ones often do, well, I can laugh at myself and know that I’m in good company. Just after the Resurrection, the apostles went right back to fishing. And then I can joyfully try again to follow the lead of life and love.
We probably have to get back to the “real world” of work and school, but the Easter season is no ordinary time. Easter rolls back the stone from the tomb — and from our rather ordinary pains, losses, and deaths. And in doing so, Easter sheds new light on what that “real world” can be.
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The cover image by Flickr user Alessandro Silipo can be found here.