“Don’t be afraid your life will end…be afraid that it will never begin!”…….(Anonymous)
This Easter will doubtless be like almost all Easters before it…..a special day for the devout who may enjoy a breakfast at church before Mass….a day of egg hunts; chocolate bunnies and gladiator movies for the the children of the secular. Feasts of ham; hard-boiled eggs and yellow bread with crusts of gold will sate the hunger of the devout and secular alike. To many, perhaps the most puzzling aspect of this ‘holiday’ is that, though it always falls on a ‘Sunday’, there is never an employer-sanctioned Saturday and/or Monday off from work in recognition of it.
Perhaps this is fitting….an unintentional sacrifice of “time off” from work in recognition of Lenten forbearance. That grocers and clothiers; vendors of ham and of chocolate; and twice-a-year church attendees all alter their marketing; inventory; and Sunday morning habits, all attest to a ‘special’ nature to this glorious day. Not even Christmas; Hanukkah (or even ‘Festivus’)…can match the glory the import, or indeed……the message of Easter.
This day commemorates a singular message: The ‘Lamb of God’, having suffered and died for our sin, was resurrected and rose to be seated at the right hand of the Father. As God made flesh, he bore the burden of all our sins, and asks nothing in return save, perhaps, that we love each other and share a Grace we can never earn or merit. Most would agree that seems an excellent bargain……yet, how many of us afford more than ‘lip service’ of an occasional contribution to a charity or a periodic visit to church?
Whether we attend like clockwork or visit twice a year in newly purchased finery of raiment, do we really understand or comprehend the true meaning of this Grace? That churches of today are increasingly (and, unfortunately, out of necessity) the loci of daycare centers; polling places; and branches of the criminal justice system via community service sentences is, though admirable, problematic in that the most elementary and basic message of faith is obscured. That is, the church as a forum for witnessing our acknowledgment of Grace and professing our faith that, as sinners all, we need His guidance to remind us of the attainability of eternal life.
Yes, the message of Easter is that eternal life is accessible only via the portal of death. For those who acknowledge the Grace of God and confess the human frailty of their envies; their lusts; their prejudices and their sloth…indeed, of the inherence of sin in being human, will, in their final hour, welcome the coming of the light rather than”rage against the dying of the light”.
It is where any individual, troubled by the lot of the world around him or her, can contemplate the burdens and pressures of everyday life and pray for the help and guidance of He who knows our shortcomings but loves us nonetheless. Such contemplation often can help us realize that, as humans, the nature and magnitude of our sinfulness can grow exponentially via the lens of temporal societal pressure, and this growth can make the burden of these sins too onerous to bear, too large or bulky to address, …….too cumbersome to lock away in any crate.
And to many, whose faith is insufficient to bear the strain on their back of the “crosses they bear”, there may come a time when a problem; a dilemma; or an offense they perceive as breaking the “camels’ back” can capsize what little spirit they have left.
It is to these of us that the Easter message is most important. For, in the end, we all of us need to help each other realize and to witness that, through the Grace of Our Lord, we are not human beings having (or feigning) a ‘spiritual’ experience, but spiritual beings, who, like Jesus. in his walk up to Calvary, are struggling through a human experience…..which, with faith, will open the portal to life eternal.
Let us glorify His sacrifice by witnessing his message that true life for all of us, is…….yet to come.