This weekend we celebrate the beginning of the Easter Feast or more correctly we begin the great 50 days of Easter with Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of the Lord. On the Saturday evening there is the Easter Vigil during which we light the Easter Candle symbolising Christ the light (Lumen Christi) We light the new Easter Candle from a large fire outside to remind us that Jesus is our light in the darkness in our lives and living, we then process into the darkened church. We hear the great hymn of praise called the ‘Exsultet, in which we praise Christ for saving us. The hymn says that we would greatly prefer a fallen universe with Christ to a perfect one without him. “O Happy fault which deserved so great a Saviour.” We hear more readings than usual on this night, recounting the history of our salvation. Most significantly we welcome new members into the Church and our parish communities. Then With those who have been baptized we all renew our Baptismal promises. We need time to do all of these things well, s o we begin a fifty day season of feasting with a long liturgy that is packed with all the riches the Church has to offer.
It can seem that once Easter Sunday has passed Easter is finished, but the’ celebration continues for fifty days. The next Sunday of Easter day is known as Divine Mercy Sunday. It comes almost as an opportunity in which anyone who missed out on celebrating the mercy of Christ in Holy Week has another chance. After forty days we celebrate the feast of the Ascension of Christ who returns to the Father to send us the Holy Spirit. We spend the novena (nine days) between the Ascension and Pentecost praying for the Spirit like Mary and the apostles in the Upper Room. On the fiftieth day (which is the literal meaning of the word “Pentecost”) Easter ends.
We live in a culture that yearns for the next “big thing,” the next event that will “wow” us. It can be new media, new technology, or new faces. Our culture demands not only progress, but “freshness,” something that will deliver us from the routine of whatever our lives entail.
The Resurrection stands as the eternal “Big Thing.” But, after 2000 years, it receives the lip service of the routine, the stale, and the disposable. The resurrection we should remember is never stale or disposable it is ever old and always new as it delivers us from the dull stale routine which our lives, spiritual and otherwise contain. No one ever witnessed the Resurrection of Jesus first hand. But, the Catechism points to historical evidence that supports a conclusion that faith in the Resurrection is a reasonable thing to have. The first sign was the empty tomb. Obviously many other reasons could be given for the absence of Jesus’ body. But, if we place this with others pieces of evidence a pattern emerges that points simply to faith in the Father. It is an amazing thought how the faith has come down through the ages in every generation to us , right until the here and now of today. We have knelt at the cross for ourselves and those who are dear to us and we have knelt at the cross for the sins of the whole world that the Lamb of God will take away our sins and grant us peace.
The Cross is stark in its portrayal of a suffering God, and yet full of meaning in its depictions of us and our lives yes we are all there on the cross of Good Friday. Now after the horror of the cross we bask in the joy and the happiness of the resurrection of Jesus who is the light of the world who promises us eternal life. Our celebration of Easter resonates throughout the rest of the year full of gratitude for Christ’s passion, joy in his resurrection and, strengthened by the Spirit, we continue our Christian journey.