Happy Easter! Christ is risen! Alleluia! Alleluia! It is possible because Christ first suffered, died, and rose from the dead, making possible eternal life for us all. This process of suffering, death, and resurrection is also called the Paschal Mystery in theological terms. If we look about, it is all around us.
First, look at nature. Winter is officially ended (though maybe someone needs to remind Mother Nature), and from the places where dead plants and leaves once were, the first shoots of flowers are peaking through the soil and buds are clearly seen on the trees.
Look at our new church being built. This journey for our parish is not one simply of human hands, but of prayers, and most of all God’s blessing. Despite our doubts and disbelief, God has made it possible. But, we all had to make the journey of suffering, death, and resurrection: suffering in the sacrifice of financial giving to make a new church a reality, death to the old building as it was being demolished, and now we are experiencing the resurrection clearly seen by gazing at the bright yellow shell of a new building coming out of the ground.
Most importantly, look at our lives. All of us have come to us this Easter bearing the burdens of many sufferings and deaths. Loved ones have died since we were here last year. Close friends have moved away or we moved away. Some marriages have been struggling, or worse, broken apart. A new sickness or physical issue has made itself present. The faith of someone who is close has been shaken or abandoned. Again, all of us have come with suffering and death. But, remember that this is not the end of the story. We must remember that our sufferings and deaths can be redemptive if we join the to that of Christ’s. As much as these things hurt, we must bring them to Him! How? Let him know of your pain. Just tell him. But, also listen and be open. Allow Jesus to touch that pain, so to begin the healing. Let Jesus into the death that has occurred so you can rise from your ashes. We must remember that our Lord desires to heal us. It is for this reason he came. He wants to give us a joy that is beyond our understanding and circumstances. We just need to let him in. By doing so, we can experience an Easter of our own, not despite our sufferings and deaths, but through them.
If you have been away from your Faith and the Church due to some kind of suffering, please return. Know that our Lord has not abandoned you, but wants you to share your sufferings with him. He knows all of it. He walked that path before you. And he opened the way to rise above it. But, it requires letting go of control, anger, hurt, resentment, addiction, unforgiveness, fear, and past sins. The Sacrament of Reconciliation (aka Confession) is a good start. Regardless of what has kept you away, know that you are welcome to come home to your Church, your Faith, your Lord who is waiting for you with open arms. If you’ve been away for so long that you are unsure how to return, we have a wonderful gathering that begins this Tuesday at 6:30 PM in room 1 of our Parish Center. We call it, “Welcome Home Catholics,” and it is an informal way to explore the things that you may have forgotten or just need to be encouraged about. This Easter, come home. Do not let anything get in your way. This may very well be the beginning of a new start of joy and meaning by reconnecting with your Faith.
Easter is all around us. It is in nature, our church, and deep in our lives. A new beginning is before us. Through Christ’s suffering, death, and resurrection, new possibilities of life and joy abound. Easter is a time to rejoice in this gift of Salvation. So it is right and just that we lift up our hearts and voices in praise, knowing that Christ has made all things new. And we know that God wants us all to experience it, for Easter is all around us. Alleluia! Alleluia!
Fr. William Holtzinger