As we have marked Lent by forty days of prayer, fasting and almsgiving, so now we keep the Solemnity of Easter for fifty days. It is difficult to imagine a celebration that extends over fifty days. The fifty-day celebration of Easter takes us more deeply into the resurrection and embraces more fully the mystery we begin to celebrate today.
Why fifty days? In the bible, the number seven represents fulfillment and perfection. Seven times seven is perfection multiplied by itself. Fifty takes us one day beyond perfection. We add one to that number, meaning that this mystery takes us beyond our wildest imaginings. The Easter Season is an anticipation of the Reign of God. The same holds for our Sunday celebration. The early Christians thought of Sunday, the day of resurrection, not so much as the seventh day, but rather as “the eighth day” - - the day of the new creation - - the day that moves us beyond space and time and into the Heavenly Jerusalem.
In addition to life after death, resurrection is about being fully alive in this life. The following dialogues from Fr. Anthony De Mello’s posthumously published book, More One Minute Nonsense make for good Easter Season reflection.
“’Some people claim there is no life after death,’ said a disciple. ‘Do they?’ said the Master noncommittally. ‘Wouldn’t it be awful to die - - and never again see or hear or love or move?’ ‘You find that awful?’ said the Master. ‘But that’s how most people are even before they die.’”
“A disciple decided to be more personal and direct. ‘Do you believe in life after death?’ she asked. ‘Strange that you should be so stuck on that topic!’ said the Master. ‘Why would you think it strange?’ “Here you have a glorious April day in front of you,’ said the Master, pointing to the window, ‘like a child who refuses to eat today because he does not know what tomorrow will bring. You’re starving. Eat your daily bread!’”
“’My former Master taught me to accept both birth and death.’ ‘Then what have you come to me for?’ asked the Master, ‘To learn to accept what lies between them.’”
In the weeks to come we will celebrate the sacraments of Baptism, First Eucharist, Confirmation, and Marriage. We will show our connection with our local Church through our generosity to the Catholic Services Appeal. And yes, preparations for this year’s Summer Circle (Vacation Bible School) are already underway as are many plans to celebrate our Golden Anniversary as a parish. All of these are signs of resurrection, signs of the waters of baptism springing forth in our lives. JESUS IS RISEN - - INDEED HE IS RISEN - - ALLELUIA!
Fr. Randy Phillips