After 40 days of penitential preparation, the Church welcomes the Easter season with abundant joy. Christ has vanquished death. He has brought hope, light and new life to a people previously living in sin, darkness and death. His sacrifice and subsequent victory was the ultimate game-changer.
For Catholics, Jesus’ resurrection on Easter Sunday is the third act in the story of salvation, one preceded by suffering and death. It is the height of the liturgical year.
But how often do we rejoice in the event without really understanding it? How often do we take the time to properly reflect on its deeper significance in our lives? How often do we forget to ask ourselves: “What does it mean to be a disciple of Christ in a post-Resurrection world?” To that end, here are three points for consideration.
We must be a people of joy — of resurrection — even when it’s not easy.
In 2014, Pope Francis said: “The resurrection of Jesus is not the happy ending to a nice story, it is not the ‘happy end’ of a film; rather, it is God the Father’s intervention there where human hope is shattered. At the moment when all seems to be lost, at the moment of suffering, when many people feel the need to get down from the cross, it is the moment closest to the Resurrection.”
In a world where Christ is risen, we must strive to be people of hope and joy. In our lives, when all hope seems gone, when we are tempted to give in to despair, it’s important to recognize that this is where God is at work. This takes an active faith — a trust in God and an understanding that his thoughts are not our thoughts, nor his ways our ways (Is 55:8).
We must continue to seek always.
To understand the full meaning of the Resurrection in our lives, we must work to seek the answers that Christ and the Church hold. Do we know what it means to be a baptized Christian? What it means to welcome the Holy Spirit during the Sacrament of Confirmation? Are we asking ourselves what it means to die and what it means to truly live? The paschal mystery is not easy to understand. We are challenged to read, research, ask questions — to become a seeker for Christ. Only through our own understanding will we be able to fashion an appropriate response.
We must actively respond.
Jesus’ resurrection is not a passive event. Rather, as was modeled to us by the early Christians, it demands a response. In the Acts of the Apostles, we get an example of what such active discipleship looks like. “Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple area and to breaking bread in their homes. They ate their meals with exultation and sincerity of heart, praising God and enjoying favor with all the people” (2:44-47).
As Catholics, we are blessed with opportunities to respond as Christians in a post-Resurrection world. We can encounter Christ frequently in the sacraments, particularly the Eucharist, and through prayer, Scripture and the witness of holy disciples. We can care for the needy, vulnerable, sick, imprisoned and dying. We can model the Resurrected Christ to others through our interactions, our charity and our selfless acts.
This Easter, we have the opportunity to be a people of joy, to seek to know Christ more deeply, and to recover the active fire of the first Christians. Like those early Christians, when we understand the Resurrection fully, we, too, will be willing to live our lives completely for God.
Christ is risen! Alleluia!
Editorial Board: Greg Willits, editorial director; Gretchen R. Crowe, editor-in-chief; Don Clemmer, managing editor