Let's make our prayer: 'Easter us, O God'
Easter is more than a liturgical season of 50 days, it is a way of life we are called to follow
My dear sisters and brothers in the Risen Lord,
"Resurrexit sicut dixit, alleluia, alleluia! He is risen as He said, alleluia, alleluia!"
For all who are Christian, Easter is the event without equal. Easter marks our salvation! Easter marks how faithful is our God in keeping His promises. "He is risen as He said." And because He is risen, we are promised salvation.
As we gather with our families and friends on April 11th, the day on which we commemorate Easter, as we gather together as a faith community in our churches, we celebrate that Easter is not simply "one day." As a matter of fact, Easter is more than the "50 days" of the liturgical season we call Easter. Easter, in fact, is a way of life.
Some years ago, while I was an administrator and teacher at a Catholic high school in southwestern Pennsylvania, some of my students reflected on a fact that I had never thought about. Easter is more a verb than a noun. Easter denotes an action! First, God's action in saving us. But Easter also denotes a response from us, an action that shows that we want to be and seek to be "Easter people."
With that in mind, I wonder if this Easter we might be able to offer a very short but joy-filled prayer of petition to God - "Easter us, O God."
During the octave of Easter, the first eight days of the Easter season, and during the 50 days of the Easter liturgical season, we will have an opportunity to hear a number of the Easter stories, the accounts of our earliest ancestors in the faith who met the risen Christ and knew that they could never be the same. And as we meet those people in the stories from
Scripture, those ancestors in our faith who were the first "Easter people," we pray to God that we become more like them. "Easter us, O God."
Consider the first person who became a witness of the resurrection - Mary Magdalene. When she came to the empty tomb, when she came to realize that the gardener was really not a gardener at all but the risen Christ, she ran to Peter and John and told them the good news. This Easter, we can likewise tell the good news of Jesus' resurrection to others especially by our deeds of kindness and consideration. "Easter us, O God."
Consider Peter and John, how they raced to the empty tomb and even though John arrived there first he let Peter be the first to go in. Like John we can celebrate Easter this year by considering other people's needs and wants more important than ours. "Easter us, O God."
Consider the ten apostles gathered together in the upper room on that first Easter night, how Jesus came into their company and gave them the gift of peace which no one else could give nor which anyone could ever take away. We too can open our hearts to receive that gift of peace and share it especially by reaching out to someone from whom we have been estranged - a relative whom we have not spoken with in years; a neighbor with whom we have been squabbling; a coworker or classmate to whom we have been inconsiderate. "Easter us, O God."
Consider Thomas, the one of the eleven remaining apostles who was not in that upper room on Easter night, the one who refused to believe that Jesus was alive, how Jesus came to meet him a week later and how Thomas put aside his doubts. We likewise can let Jesus, really let Jesus into our minds and hearts and surrender any doubts we may have about Him or His Church. We can come to know more than ever how much God cares about us, wants only the best for us and seeks for us to be with Him forever. "Easter us, O God."
Consider those two disciples on the road to Emmaus, how they were so caught up in complaining about how things did not turn out the way they thought they would and how they did not recognize Jesus who was walking with them. Only when Jesus "broke the bread" did they realize why their hearts were burning within them. In the midst of our complaining about why life is not working out the way we think it should, we can take more seriously the Eucharist, go to Mass regularly and let Jesus help our hearts burn with the excitement of faith. "Easter us, O God."
Consider Peter on the seashore, still deep in guilt over his own betrayal of Jesus just a few days earlier, how Jesus came to meet him and in asking three times if he loved Him, Peter came to realize not only the love he had in his own heart for Jesus but especially came to realize how much love Jesus had for him. We too can give over to God the guilt that we have about deeds done in the past, accept Jesus' invitation to receive his love and peace
in the Sacrament of Penance and like Peter go about the business of showing God our love in our daily deeds and words. "Easter us, O God."
As we celebrate Easter 2004, my first Easter with you, please be very much assured of my prayers for you as I hope I can be reassured of your prayers for me that together we may be "Easter people." Hopefully, like Mary Magdalene, like Peter and John, like the remaining apostles on that first Easter day, like Thomas, like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, our lives will never be the same all because "Resurrexit sicut dixit, alleluia, alleluia! He is risen as He said, alleluia, alleluia!"
Your brother in Christ,
Most Reverend David A. Zubik
Bishop of Green Bay