As we enter the third week of the Easter season, we realize that we are on a journey which passes from day to day. It does not seem that long ago that we commenced the forty days of Lent, which has come to its conclusion with the celebration of Easter. The season of Easter continues for fifty days with the conclusion on the Solemnity of Pentecost. The journey of the season passes quickly, and it is well for us to use the season in a fruitful way just as we did with the season of Lent. For some reason, we do not seem to concentrate as much on the season of Easter as we do on Lent. However, Lent is meant to prepare for the celebration of the Easter season.
The Easter season is one in which we celebrate the very foundation of our faith. Jesus Christ, God Himself, has come to us and has taken our human nature to Himself. He has experienced everything that we do, including our deepest sufferings and pains and ultimately death. Free from all sin, Jesus took our sins to Himself in order that we might be delivered from them and the unhappiness they bring to us. As we celebrate the Easter season, we must turn away from ourselves and to the reality of Christ. There is always the tendency to look in upon ourselves and hold onto ourselves, especially in difficult and hard times. This truly was the experience of the apostles and disciples on the first Easter morning. However, the power of Christ raised from the dead draws us to Himself and reminds us that only He can enlighten our lives in a manner that makes not only the darkness disappear but be transformed into something beautiful. The power of Christ raised from the dead reminds us that it is not our efforts which make any difference, but only the reality of Jesus Christ which transforms. As the Lord hung upon the cross on Good Friday and experienced the most terrifying suffering, He did so in order to be with us even in our darkest times. As He rises from the dead, He gives us not only the hope of our resurrection but the power to see beyond what is before us and to be drawn more to His life.
Through His Resurrection, Christ has conquered sin and death and has brought to each one of us the fullness of life, which begins in this world and will continue into eternity when every tear and sorrow will be wiped away. God created us, in His image and likeness, because He wants us to live His life. Not even our refusal in sin prevents God from loving us and from desiring to enter into a personal relationship with each of us. Only by living that personal relationship with God in our lives each and every day do we find the happiness for which God created us. While all of the other things which God has made in creation are good, by themselves they cannot bring us true happiness unless God is a part of them.
As we continue on our journey in life, we encounter many things. Many of them are good and joyful. The family which God has given to us, our friends and other people, as well as the goods of the earth which God has made for us, are sources of happiness in this life. However, we also encounter many difficulties in life. The loss of loved ones, sickness, misunderstanding, isolation, disappointment, lack of peace and financial difficulties are but some of them. All of the things we encounter during our journey in life come to us whether we have faith or not. However, it is only faith, especially in the difficult times, that helps us to meet all of that which comes to us. Faith is an anchor and a foundation.
Faith also reminds us that we are on a journey in this life. The journey will come to its conclusion. While this life is good as given to us by God, it will culminate in the fullness of life in heaven. There we will be with God and all who have gone before us enjoying the very life of God Himself. Faith keeps our focus on this goal as we go through our journey. Without the gift of faith, we can live good lives, but there is a hopelessness to them. Only faith reminds us of eternal life.
Jesus went on many journeys during His ministry. His ultimate journey was to Jerusalem, where He would give His life on the cross for us. Nothing prevented Jesus from continuing this journey, and His eyes were always fixed on it out of love for us. After His death on the cross, the Lord journeyed into the depths of death where He called forth all those who had gone before Him right back to Adam and Eve. After His Resurrection from the dead, Jesus journeyed back to heaven, where He sits at the right hand of the Father and calls us to Him. Through the gift of the Holy Spirit and that of His presence among us in the Eucharist, He is always with us on our journey. We are never alone, not even when we feel most alone.
The season of Easter is a joyous one. It is a journey of fifty days. It follows the journey of the forty days of Lent. All of this reminds us that we are moving forward in our journey of life and that it is our faith which keeps us moving ahead with meaning and purpose. As we continue to celebrate this joyful Easter season, may we all know the Lord’s presence more fully among us, and may we journey with Him to the fullness of life He has prepared for us.
Most Reverend Gerald M. Barbarito
April 21, 2023