March 27, 2016 Easter Sunday – A View from the Rectory Window

 

“Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark . . .” (Jn 20:1)

“While it was still dark. . .”  Easter begins while it is still dark.  So, too, in our lives?

“Easter seems early this year.”  Have you said that?  This year all those arcane astronomical calculations (in the year 325, the Council of Nicea defined Easter as “the first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the vernal equinox”) puts Easter numbingly early.  This year, I remember ordering Easter lilies for our churches while a wet snow was falling.  The weather has further disoriented me… one weekend it is wet and cold, then mid-week we are setting records for high temperatures.  What will Easter sunrise Mass bring?

In one way I feel that the long, dark days of winter have fit well with the leaden Lenten season of penance and reflection and waiting which recalls Jesus’ forty days temptation in the wilderness and Israel’s forty years in the wilderness before entering the Promised Land.  The long grey expanse of a bleak winter gives us a physical analogy to the theology of Lent, the time of delay and praying and spiritual waiting.  Will spring, will new life, will resurrection ever get here?

On the other hand— completely reversing that line of thought— I’d like to suggest that the opposite      reaction, “Wow, Easter is so early!” can offer us an even greater spiritual insight this year.

If you think of the experience of the disciples during Holy Week, they had first the grey icy sense of    defeat and discouragement after Jesus’ crucifixion, a sense of deadness dragging on without foreseeable end.  They understood spiritual winter very well.  And, suddenly, on the third morning, Easter burst   upon them!  They weren’t ready for it, they were startled by its arrival, and they didn’t see it coming.  Yet there it was, in the middle of the grey bleakness of grief and confusion, the Son rose!  If anything, the feeling of an “early” Easter fits the first believers’ experience in a compelling way.

For many of us, winter or spiritual discouragement has a pretty tight grip on our lives.  Be it in anger,   illness, worry, sorrow, stress or confusion.  May this ‘early’ Easter remind us that it is precisely in these moments, ‘while it was still dark’, that He comes to break into our lives, even if we aren’t ready for Him, even if we are startled by His arrival and we do not see Him coming.

I thank you this Easter day for your goodness.  I am grateful to God to celebrate this Easter day with you.  I pray this Easter day and every day that our hearts may be open to Our Risen Lord and that he make known to you His life and His light, His love and His mercy.

Fr. Pete