One of the graces of Easter falling in early April is that nature reflects the joy of new life found in the resurrection of Our Lord and Savior. Our parks and gardens bloom with color. We wonder at how even the most delicate of spring flowers survived our long and cold winter. We revel in our world that seems to have been reborn.
This experience of a world made new also describes some of how the Apostles and other followers of Jesus felt as they made sense of the meaning of Jesus’ death and resurrection and began to see what impact this astounding news had on the people with whom they shared it. They too found a new vision for life in the story of Jesus. They too wanted to become disciples.
In fact, Jesus described his whole mission as one of giving new life: “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). What Jesus offers is a life richer than any we could ever otherwise have, a life so radically new that we must be born again to receive it, a life that participates in his own resurrection and in a glorified and eternal body.
In this we learn that Easter is not so much a time of historical reflection as it is one of rejoicing in our own hope of resurrection. While it is true that we look to the past and see in Christ’s risen life new and eternal existence, we do so to confirm our own faith that some day we too shall rise from the dead. Easter takes on an aura of celebration and an evangelical dimension as we recognize that we are called to share in the wonder of new life.
Like the first followers of Jesus we also need to be enthusiastic messengers of the Good News of the new life to be found in relationship with the Lord. The Church spread from Jerusalem and Rome to Africa and India and all over what we now call Europe on the strength of the testimony of the witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection and the enthusiasm of the first Christians. As we move through these 50 days of the Easter season, we have an opportunity to share the difference that Jesus, faith and belonging to the Church make in our lives.
Sharing our faith can be as simple as praying with family each day of the Easter season one of the traditional Easter prayers, like the Regina Caeli. Another way is to read together the book of Acts of the Apostles, in which we learn how the first Christians began to form local communities and expand the Church that Jesus established. In the invitational spirit of Pope Francis, we might consider inviting friends who do not have a spiritual home to join us at Mass or for family sacramental celebrations such as First Communion or Confirmation and then talk about what the sacrament means in everyday life.
We also need to be courageous and active in bearing witness to the Good News as it relates to some of the toughest issues we face today. We are being called to defend religious liberty and promote our right to nurture a robust Catholic identity in all of our Catholic institutions and in how we each live our Catholic faith. Being faithful witnesses to the joy of Easter requires us also to speak up on behalf of Christ’s Church. We should not remain silent, either before the empty tomb or before challenges, to our ability to live and practice our faith.
As joyful witnesses of the Gospel, we want to share that Jesus Christ can fulfill our deepest yearnings and has the power to make what is good in human life far better and richer. He takes our broken lives and heals them, inviting us to share in God’s life so that we might live not just as creatures of a loving God but as his children.