I would, first of all, like to wish each of you a happy and a holy Easter. And, I would like to thank everyone who helped in making the ceremonies of this Holy Week possible -- particularly those of you who have given of your time and efforts -- and also those of you who made the effort to be here for the various Masses of Lent and Holy Week. I am sure our Lord appreciates your efforts.
Earlier this week it occurred to me that it might help us to understand Easter a bit better if we were to look at it from a slightly different perspective. By that I mean that we almost always think of it as an event in the past. We reflect back, and remember that about 1,970 years ago our Lord suffered, died, and rose again from the dead, in order to make it possible to share His happiness in heaven.
Obviously that was an important event -- but it was 1,970 years ago. And, events that took place literally thousands of years ago often are too remote to seem significant. Even though we believe they took place, events that long ago in the past seem to take on a storybook character -- hard to get excited about.
There are two other perspectives though. It might be useful if we were to try to imagine what it might have been like to be born before the time of Christ, and to be looking forward to our redemption.
Those of you who were here for Mass on Wednesday will remember that prophetic reading from Isaias.
It is not very hard to see that God had given Isaias a glimpse of the future, and that his words would be fulfilled in the future events of Holy Week.
Or think of the other people of the Old Testament -- put yourself in the shoes of someone like Abraham, or Joseph, or Moses -- or one of the valiant and holy women of the Old Testament, like Judith, or Esther, or Ruth. Think about living a good and holy life, yet still not being able to enter heaven because the promised Redeemer had not yet come. Imagine how Adam and Eve must have longed for Christ -- knowing that they were to have the longest wait of all.
Or, perhaps you might try to imagine the kind of excitement there must have been in the Limbo of the Just as the last few days of the original Holy Week played out. Certainly the angels in heaven must have kept those souls informed of the Redeemer's progress -- for they were soon to be neighbors. Imagine the excitement in the heart of Saint Joseph, knowing that he was soon (and permanently) to be re-united with his Son, and to hear first hand news about his beloved wife. Imagine the kind of meeting that must have been, when our Lord went to conduct the souls of the Just to their eternal reward!
Perhaps that sort of a perspective will help us to appreciate Easter a little more. And, there is at least one other way of looking at it -- Not as an event in the past, nor as one in the future We can treat Easter as an event that is taking place right now. And, that might be something we ought to do year 'round.
If we will but remind ourselves that our sins are causing Jesus to suffer and die on the Cross -- right now -- then it will be a lot easier not to commit them. If we will but remind ourselves that Jesus Christ is conquering death and rising from the grave -- right now -- then it ought to be a lot easier to recall our Baptismal innocence, as we rose out of the waters with Him. That is, after all, how God sees it -- as one eternal now.
And if we will but cooperate with the graces that He gives us -- right now -- we can look backward to the past or forward to the future -- indeed we can look in any direction we want -- and we will see the joy of our eternal salvation. And that, of course, is the true meaning of Easter: Christ is risen from the dead -- and we can rise with Him!