A blessed Easter to all of you! Let us choose to celebrate the daily victories over death and the empty tombs that are left behind in our lives. Let us give thanks and praise to God for His invitation to die to ourselves so that we might live abundant lives.
During this Lent, we have been encouraged to initiate practices in our lives that teach us how to die to ourselves. If we have done this well, there should be a series of empty tombs left behind. Take a look back at your journey through Lent and notice the empty tombs that you have left behind. Is there an empty tomb where your hatred for another human being has died? Is there an empty tomb where you have left behind to die your own greed or selfishness? Is there an empty tomb that contains the remains of your prejudice? Is there an empty tomb in which you have left behind to die your need for control or your attempt to be God? Take some time in your prayer and in your Easter celebration to give thanks to God for these empty tombs. Since Lent has ended, we need to keep a watchful eye so that these empty tombs are not filled with deadly things again.
Every Sunday, but especially on Easter Sunday, we are called to celebrate the risen life of Christ and our own risen life that we share with Christ. Where are you experiencing new and risen life? Is it possible that because you allowed something in you to die you are experiencing a deeper level of love and life? Could it be true that if one is willing to lose his or her life, he or she will be given new life abundantly? It certainly is one of the teachings of Jesus, but hopefully it is not just a great idea. So let’s take some time to find the places in our own lives where this is absolutely true. If we can do that, it will be a source of encouragement for us to continue to do it in our lives even though it isn’t the season of Lent.
Let’s focus on a common experience that we have. Any of us who has taken the opportunity to share with someone less fortunate than ourselves knows that our hearts come alive when we do this. There is a part of us that has a sense that this is exactly what we are meant to do. This is the purpose for which we were created and we are always blessed by that choice. It doesn’t mean that the choice is easy. Loving our enemy, sharing with those who don’t seem to be grateful or giving when we have very little for ourselves and our families are difficult choices. But the more we live in fear, the more we die from the inside out. The more we live in freedom and in love, the more and deeper life we experience in Christ.
Our Easter celebration this year may still be different than the ones we remember in the past, but what is the same is our celebration of what happened through Jesus and how we carry that on in our own lives. There isn’t anything in the world that can stop this, including a pandemic, a virus, social divisions and hardened hearts. We have been created in freedom for love, and that remains in our power of choice no matter what is going on around us or the circumstances of our lives. During this Easter season, continue to leave the tombs in your life empty and make the choices that will allow you to experience day by day the power of the risen Christ. Let your “Alleluia, Christ is risen” be more than a sentimental journey into the past but a recognition of what is true and living in your own life and through your choices.
Father Wester is pastor of All Saints Parish in St. Peters.