\”Easter changes everything for us, too. We know that life is stronger than death. Love is stronger than hatred. Hope stronger than despair. We know that Christ is risen, and with us\” – Fr. James Martin, S.J
A sense of newness blossomed from the doors of Holy Ghost Church in Denver. I sat in the warmth of the sun, waiting to enter for the noon Mass, and ever-observant of the joys of last year’s Easter morn. Three little girls twirled around their father, running up and down the sidewalk, stuffed Easter bunnies in hand.
One girl was older, you could tell, because she waited patiently, holding the bunny\’s hand. The second daughter, a bit younger, danced pirouettes on the sidewalk, her bunny spinning too. The third daughter raced back and forth, running as fast as she could, and finding great delight in occasionally letting the bunny smack into her father and the other girls.
The father stood watching, willing to accept the way each daughter approached the day – all three visibly excited, yet expressing their joy in very different ways.
Is this not how Christ welcomes us each and every day we enter the Church? Does He not open his arms to the way we come to Him – sometimes running, sometimes spinning circles around Him, sometimes simply waiting and holding His hand?
The 40 days of Lent are not easy. Easter often seems a million miles out of reach. We struggle. We grow. We fall. We try again. And Christ waits. He is with us in our darkness. He is with us in our light. We are renewed in His love and in the great sacrifice He made for us on the Cross of Salvation.
The Easter Triduum – the evening of Holy Thursday through the evening of Easter Sunday – is hard. We are confronted with the doubts of Peter, the betrayal of Judas and the joys of the Resurrection all within 72 hours. We are called to the Sacraments in ways more real to us than we may have realized in the entirety of the 40 days prior. More time is spent in prayer. We reflect on scriptures, pray with our parishes, share in the Eucharist, fast and remember Christ on the Cross.
It is a time of humility, trial, forgiveness, mercy and, ultimately, great joy.
Easter changes us. It calls us forth from darkness, from our past faults and failings, and it breathes life anew into our spirits. Lent is not easy, but is it not moments of great difficulty that can call forth a more profound trust in God and in His plan for us?
How did Lent change you? How now does the joy of Easter change you? How does your heart grow stronger in Christ as you recognize where you were before Lent and where you are today? How do we trust more in the joys of the Easter season as we reflect on the challenges of Lent? Most importantly, how do we continue to let our hearts be transformed by Christ throughout this Easter season?
May we always come to Christ patiently holding his hand, running wildly with excitement or twirling about in amazement of His love.