Alleluia! He is risen!
The word “Alleluia” is Hebrew for “Praise the Lord.” It is a particularly appropriate exclamation during the Easter season as we celebrate Christ’s triumph over sin and death.
For many of us, the continuing restrictions designed to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 have made the last 12 months seem like one long Lent. In some cases, just to be able to hug our loved ones again someday will be a kind of resurrection. At the same time, the unexpected loss of family members and others we know to the pandemic – some of them young and apparently healthy – has inevitably prompted reflections on our own mortality.
Death and sin entered the world together in the garden of Eden. Those are realities that we all face. But death is not the end of the story. Christ’s resurrection paves the way for our own. That is what we celebrate for the seven weeks of the Easter season, the longest season in the Church calendar except for Ordinary Time.
With appropriate health and safety procedures in place, this year we are fortunately able to again observe this wonderful season as a Eucharistic community of faith, despite the persistence of the health crisis. In 2020, by contrast, there were no publicly celebrated Masses in Ohio from mid-March until May 25. Therefore, on the Fifth Sunday of Easter last year we were not present to hear proclaimed the comforting reassurance of Christ in the Gospel for that day:
“Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be. Where I am going you know the way.’ Thomas said to him, ‘Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life.’” (Jn 14:1-6)
Eternal life is a promise from Christ, the way and the truth and the life, and there is nothing surer. That is the “sure and certain hope of the resurrection” that we speak of in prayers for the dead. However, we still need to prepare for our physical death, on both the practical and spiritual levels. This issue of The Catholic Telegraph will help you do that.
Many people have told me that the deaths and disruption related to COVD-19 have been something of a “wake up call,” causing them to closely examine and reprioritize their lives. The purpose of the Lenten penitential season is not to punish us but to change us. And it should be a permanent change, a reset button that helps prepare us to meet Christ at the end of our lives and go with Him to the dwelling place He has prepared for us.
Do you make time every day to encounter Christ in prayer? Is the Eucharist the center of your spiritual life? Does your relationship with Christ direct your decisions and actions, especially the way your treat others? Do you remember in difficult times that Christ is suffering with you and wants to support you? If you have not pondered such questions as these during Lent, it is not too late.
As I noted in my bicentennial pastoral letter, Radiate Christ, “Christ constantly offers the invitation to live in relationship with Him and eagerly hopes that we will respond.” He wants to be with us in all our joys and sorrows, in all our successes and failures. Although human beings and human institutions may fail us, Christ never will. Alleluia!