After forty days of Lent and the violence of Good Friday, we rejoice this Easter Sunday. “Alleluia” is our cry spoken again for the first time in weeks! We have moved from the sorrow and sadness of Good Friday to the good news of Easter Sunday. Everything is changed. Life is changed. Death is changed. We are changed. “Alleluia” proclaims what words stumble to proclaim. “Alleluia!” Alleluia!” He is risen. No other response is possible.
Our Easter celebration is not an event that occurred 2000 years ago, but a victory that continues to impact our lives. Easter means that death is not the last word---not an end but a new beginning that helps us make sense of life. Easter assigns death to a final, and everlasting temporary status. Death becomes a coffee break, a nap, a brief pause that allows us to gather up new strength to continue the rest of our lives filled with energy and zest.
Easter reminds us that death is not simply a fact of life, nor the dreaded event that interrupts all our hopes and dreams. Death is not the major event on our life’s journey, but a part of a greater story. Death tells us that dying and rising are equally real events and equally human experiences. Easter focuses on the resurrection of Jesus to prove that life is the major focus of our existence, a journey begun at our Baptism that never ends.
This view gives life a completely different dimension where death is forever put in its rightful subordinate place. Easter allows us to live life differently, and remain faithful, knowing that our life’s journey contains more possibilities then we could imagine. Without Easter we may spend life wondering why our existence has so little meaning. Then “Alleluia” would be out of place, nothing more than a mistaken cry of desolation.
We know better! Mary Magdalene returned from the empty tomb after encountering the “Gardner” who revealed himself as Jesus. She is called by name and returns to the community able to declare, “I have seen the Lord!” She models the Easter formula for faith: to walk in the light, to risk the journey within, to connect with the faithful community, and to remain steadfast even in the darkness of doubt. All who follow that path will surely be able to say, “I have seen the Lord!”
As one spiritual writer reminds us, Easter Sunday is: “the testimony that you and I are able to give. We cannot repeat the witness of others. We must testify to what we have seen and experienced ourselves. This means we have to go down to the empty places in our lives and seek and find the risen Lord there. We’ll know Jesus when faith becomes the only sensible response to what we have seen and our hands have touched. When Easter morning lives in us, we can gaze fearlessly into the places in this world that seem to be inhabited by nothing. We will perceive the spirit of God already breathing on the void, and we will be filled with hope.”
Then with renewed courage we remember the wisdom words of Bishop Sklba, retired-Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of the Milwaukee Archdiocese, who reminds us: “We are born into a time not of our choosing and given a task not always to our liking. And we will find God there or not at all, for God is nowhere else.” And then no matter what tragedies life hands us, we can proclaim, a hearty “Alleluia.”
~ Deacon Wilson Shierk