C.S. Lewis once said “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” Each year, the celebration of Easter seems to slip further and further away from the central truth of Christianity: that God, in his desperate love for us, sent his Son into the world to walk beside us and teach us how to love God and one another. This school of love culminates in the passion, death, and Resurrection of the Lord, as Jesus reconciles the world to God through the cross on Good Friday and triumphs over death on Easter Sunday. In a world that seeks to eliminate suffering, it is in the cross that we find meaning in our own suffering as Jesus unites his physical, mental, and emotional suffering to ours. Yet this suffering and death can never be separated from the glory of the Resurrection. Indeed, Good Friday and Easter Sunday are inextricable from one another. They are the same event. And they should fill us with hope and joy.
I like that we celebrate Easter with bunnies and chocolate eggs. I think of the excitement of children on Easter morning, rushing to see what’s been gifted to them in their baskets. I am reminded that we are to have that same childlike joy. We are sons and daughters of God and He delights in giving us gifts too. While there is no doubt that there is pain and suffering in this life, the Resurrection points us towards a future without suffering, to life everlasting. The message of Easter is one of joy, of peace, and of love if only you allow yourself to receive those sacred gifts.
In the encyclical “Deus Caritas Est”, Pope Benedict writes that being a Christian is “not the result of an ethical choice or lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.” I encourage you this Easter, whether you struggle to believe in God or not, whether you’ve strayed from the faith or not, to seek again to encounter to the person of Jesus. Go deeper into the mystery of this man. Push aside preconceived notions and regurgitated cathechism and venture into this person, this event. He longs to heal you, to bind up wounds, to free you, to give you rest, to bring you peace, to complete your joy. This is my hope for each of us, myself included, that we let the truth of Easter linger in our hearts long after the chocolate bunnies are devoured and the Easter baskets are put away. If we do, I believe it will not only change us, but change the way we see everything else.
Happy Easter from your friends at the Emmaus Centre!