Monday, May 19, 2014

Easter Revelations & Resolutions

Most Catholics love Lent--a season of striving, full of hope for new habits.  But what about Easter, the longest and most glorious season of the liturgical year?  What would our lives look like if we started making Easter resolutions?

Lent is custom-made for "doers" and "list makers" like me.  But the Easter season poses a challenge because it is less about doing and more about being.  If Lent is a matter of identifying areas for growth through prayer, penance and almsgiving, then Easter is a matter of allowing myself to be drawn into the very life of the Blessed Trinity. 

Pope Benedict's Jesus of Nazareth describes this essential fact about Jesus' Resurrection: "an ontological leap occurred, one that touches begin as such, opening up a dimension that affects us all, creating for all of us a new space of life, a new space of being in union with God" (p. 274).  The final weeks of the Easter season draw us into the depths of the mystery revealed by Jesus' passion, death and Resurrection. 

The key word for the Easter season is encounter.  Our eyes are opened to the myriad of ways we can meet the Risen Lord each day.  Our hearts are drawn into a real relationship with our heavenly Father.  Our ears become more attuned to the still, small voice of the Spirit.  These weeks of walking with the Christ are an invitation to embrace the mystery of Trinitarian Love within which we live and move and have our being.

For the first disciples as for us, Jesus' teachings and sayings become comprehensible only after encountering the light of the Resurrection.  He came and walked among us--suffering death and then rising--in order to reveal the very face of the Father's love; he poured out his life in order to shower us with the Spirit.  The Risen Lord frees us from the fallacy of self-determination (my experience, my meaning, my health and prosperity, my will, etc.), and he reveals that Truth and Life are found in another, absolutely unique Way.

The "Way" of Jesus is not just one way among many, but it is the one path to authentic union with the Other.  Our life becomes "de-centralized" of self, and a new reality is revealed for us and in us and through us:  "And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always....On that day you will realize that I am in my Father and you are in me and I in you" (Jn 14:16, 20).  Created in the image and likeness of God, we are made for communion, for intimacy with the One who is an intimate communion of Persons.

The reality of the Resurrection is always dynamic.  The encounter with the Triune God revealed in Christ always leads to action on behalf of the beloved.  Jesus himself does not rest during the Easter season.  He is glorified, but does not glory in himself; he is triumphant in his victory over sin and death, but not a triumphalist.  Rather, the Risen Lord is a man on the move:  He is intent on returning to the Father to prepare a place for us; he is resolved not to leave us orphans; he promises to return again at the end of time.

Pope Benedict concludes his reflection on the Resurrection by inviting us to appreciate the divine way that God elicits our love following the event of Easter.  Down through the centuries, God allows the light of the Easter to be refracted through the apostolic witness of the Church:

If we attend to the witnesses with listening hearts and open ourselves to the signs
by which the Lord again and again authenticates both them and himself,
then we know that he is truly risen.  He is alive. 
Let us entrust ourselves to him, knowing that we are on the right path. 
With Thomas let us place our hands into Jesus' pierced side and confess:
'My Lord and my God!'" (p. 277)
This Easter, recreated by the Resurrection, let's resolve to sit silently, to open ourselves, and to search anew for signs that point us toward the Mystery of mysteries.
Peace and God bless,
P.S.  If you are on Facebook and interested in following the Newman Institute--which features faith formation opportunities around the Diocese of Joliet--please check out the following link (and "like" it!):