Sunday, April 16, 2017

The Easter Alleluia 2017

Alleluia! He is Risen! We get to say this for the next, oh, 50 days or so and I can't wait! The Easter Season is my FAVORITE.

As we hear in the Psalm today: "The stone that the builders rejected, has become the cornerstone." Psalm 118. On Good Friday, we saw the world reject Jesus. But today, we remember that His Death and Resurrection is the cornerstone of our faith.

We repeat this Paschal Mystery- Christ's Suffering, Death, Resurrection, and Ascension- during each Mass and throughout our lives. We are constantly rejecting and rebuilding with Jesus. We are continually experiencing suffering, death, and then new life. These last few days of Triduum and Easter, however, just remind us of it.

I was actually struck by this as I was walking home from my part time job on Good Friday. I was bummed that I had to work during the Triduum (but OMG sooo happy that I have NO job to be at for the next 8 days. Blessed Easter Octave indeed!!!). However, I took some time each morning to reflect since I had to work in the evenings. And I remembered that while it is beautiful and one of my favorite things about the Church that we relive and remember these moments so vividly during the Triduum, Christ already died and rose for us 2000 years ago. While it is important to remember, I did not have to re-witness Him dying in order to truly celebrate. I just had to remember and give thanks in my heart.

Today, however, is THE day- the day that all of our other Sundays are structured around- the Resurrection! And for the past few years since I have been in grad school, I have done my best to participate in the Easter Vigil. Especially the past 2 years that I have been in Richmond helping out with RCIA. It is a beautiful night for so many reasons- the darkness, the recollection that this is what early Christians did 2000 years ago, the readings- but the best part is definitely witnessing neophytes receive the Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist).

 Beginning of the Easter Vigil with the lighting of the new Paschal candle!

My favorite new Catholic from last year who became a sponsor herself this year!

Some of the newly baptized cry. Some are beaming with joy and smiles. As I witness those who have studied and prayed receive the Sacraments for the first time, I usually do a little of both. And I'm always called to re-examine my own faith. As a Catholic for 36 years, who has done all of the Catholic things for so long, it is easy to take my faith for granted. Witnessing people coming into the Church helps me re-commit to the faith that I have had to continually commit to all my life all over again.

Our bishop last night reminded us of this in his homily. He spoke of belief and that those who were receiving the Sacraments for the first time as well as those of us already Catholic, were all gathered there last night because of our belief. It is amazing that we read about those who believed in the Scriptures and we are still following in their footsteps today. Or trying to at least.

This AM, I used this article  to help me mediate further on Easter. I was struck by this paragraph (the whole article was really worth the read, though):

"Pope Francis suggested everyone find a quiet place on Easter to reflect on their problems and the problems of the world and then tell God, “I don’t know how this will end, but I know Christ has risen.”

There are many problems that we can bring to the Lord right now. I think about the apostles and how they also were afraid in this moment of Easter when they found the tomb empty. They had no idea what that would mean for them. The Romans could come for them thinking that they stole the body. The Jewish priests could seek to persecute them as they had Jesus. They gathered back in the Upper Room where they had been for the Passover and in that moment, Jesus greeted them- resurrected- and gave them Peace. 

We can go to our "upper rooms" with our fears and worries, but then must experience the Risen Christ and receive His Peace. I look forward to meditating on this as we await the advocate- the Holy Spirit- at Pentecost. But He is Risen. He is Risen now as He was then and will be when when we see Him again. 

Alleluia! Happy Easter!