A reflection by Deacon Keith Kondrich
The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul
My youngest son, Tommy, has been an altar-server at our parish for a number of years now but because of our family schedules and other conflicts, he has never had the opportunity to serve the Easter Vigil. This year, he was available and enthusiastically interested in serving the Easter Vigil with me. If you have ever attended the Easter Vigil, you know that it is a beautiful celebration of our Lord’s glorious resurrection, the triumph of light over darkness, the victory of life over death!
After the vigil, during the car ride home, my son and I were talking about Easter and he said to me, “You know what dad, I think that instead of making New Year’s Resolutions, we should make Easter resolutions!” Intrigued by his comment, I replied, “Why do you say that? Tell me more!”
“Well,” he said, “Think about it. We make New Year’s Resolutions at the worst time of the year. It is usually cold and dark and dreary and snowy. People are depressed because the holidays are over. They’re coming off a time of excess. . .excess food, excess drink, excess spending, excess partying. Springtime, the promise of new life and the hope of change, seems like a long way off!
“Easter would be a much better time to make resolutions because it is usually warmer, brighter, and the flowers are starting to bloom. People are excited. . .Spring & Summer are just around the corner. It is daylight longer. And people are coming off of a time of fasting and discipline – they’ve already had 40 days of practice during Lent to strengthen and keep an Easter Resolution!”
As a person who often fails to keep the many resolutions that I make every New Year, my son’s suggestion about Easter Resolutions really got me thinking! After all, Easter is about resurrection, a fresh start, beginning a new life with our risen Lord! Perhaps he was on to something about carrying the spiritual, emotional, and physical disciplines of Lent forward into and beyond the Easter season; indeed, throughout the rest of the year! The Gospel accounts of the various reactions to the empty tomb as well as the initial encounters with the Risen Christ provide us with three Easter Resolutions to consider.
Resolution #1. . .Eliminate fear in our lives! Aren’t we tired of being afraid all the time? Afraid of terrorists, afraid of politicians, afraid of immigrants, afraid of strangers, afraid of global warming, afraid of suffering, afraid of death! When Mary Magdalene encounters Jesus outside of the empty tomb, he tells her. . .“do not be afraid!” He tells us the same thing. . . “do not be afraid!”
In his Easter Homily this year, Pope Francis reminds us that “Christians are called to be people of joy and hope. Jesus frees us from being Christians without hope, who live as if the Lord were not risen, as if our problems were the center of our lives. Let us not allow darkness and fear to distract us and control us; we must cry out to them: the Lord is not here, but has risen! He is our greatest joy; he is always at our side and will never let us down.”
Certainly there are a lot of scary things in our world today but as Christians, we do not let fear dominate and control our lives. We know that our story did not end in the darkness and despair and horror of Good Friday. Our story has no end – just a beautiful, joyful, hopeful new beginning. Our story is eternal!
Resolution #2. . .Share the Good News! After the resurrection, Jesus appears to the disciples in the upper room where they are cowering, and tells them “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature!” That is what my son and I felt empowered to do after leaving the Easter Vigil. We were beaming with joy! We were confident in our faith! We were downright excited and we wanted everyone to know it!
Pope Francis continues his Easter Homily, saying “As joyful servants of hope, we must announce the Risen One by our lives and by our love; and so awaken and resurrect hope in hearts burdened by sadness, in those who struggle to find meaning in life.”
So many people in our world, in our communities, in workplaces, and even in our churches are hungry for the Good News of salvation! We have a sacred duty to share that Good News with them; to share the joy of Easter! The Good News trumps every story of doom and gloom on the nightly newscasts.
Resolution #3. . .Eliminate the “bribes” that “keep us out of trouble”! After the resurrection, some of the guards go into the city and tell the chief priests what had happened. The stone has been rolled away! The tomb is empty! Jesus is not there! Desperate to deny and hide the truth, the chief priests meet with the elders, discuss the situation, and give the soldiers a large sum of money (bribe) telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him while we were asleep.’ And if this gets to the ears of the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.”
Who are the chief priests in our lives that want us to keep silent about the truth? Who are the elders who want us to make up a story about Jesus’ body being stolen so we can keep out of trouble? We can’t let pride, or fear, or prejudice, or political parties, or polite company “bribe” us from sharing the truth; bribe us from speaking out against injustice; bribe us from challenging the prophets of despair; bribe us from recognizing a sister or brother in the face of a stranger; bribe us from sharing our joy and excitement over the fact that we have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ – Jesus Christ who has conquered death and darkness!
Let’s make an Easter resolution. . .an Easter Resolution to carry our Lenten momentum and Easter Joy forward – throughout the rest of the year and throughout the rest of our lives!