Easter is a season of new life. There is a reason Christians celebrate Easter in the springtime, the season of new plant and animal life. For there to be “new life,” there must be a death that precedes it. Like the tulip, unless the flower dies and the nourishment recedes into the bulb, there can be no life the following year. During Holy Week, we celebrate in real time, the final days and death of Jesus. On Easter morning, the tomb is empty and covered by a huge stone.
In each of our lives, we suffer death, for example, the loss of those whom we love, and the “smaller” personal deaths of major illness, diminishment of physical abilities, memory loss, uncertainly about a sense of purpose after retirement. Sometimes, we are tempted to remain in the tombs we create for ourselves. Easter challenges us to roll away the stone. I chose the title of this post from a song by Tom Conry. (You can find a performance of this song by googling the title and composer.)
Roll Away the Stone
Tom Conry, 1993
Roll away the stone, see the glory of God.
Roll away the stone.
They have been saying all our plans are empty.
They have been saying “Where is their God now?”
They have been saying no one will remember.
They have been saying power rules the world.
They have been saying no one hears the singing.
They have been saying all our strength is gone.
They have been saying “All of us are dying.”
They have been saying “All of us are dead.”
We always seem to be looking into the empty tomb to find signs of new life. We are like the disciples who “did not yet understand the scripture that he had to rise from the dead.” (John 20:9) We have a choice of living or dying. We read in Deuteronomy 30:19-20,
I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live, by loving the Lord, your God.
I have been re-reading the sections on Lent and Easter in my journals of the past ten years. In one of them, I found this quotation from Sr. Janet Yurkanin, IHM:
If Easter has not made a concrete difference in my life, what do I celebrate, and why?
What have been the resurrections in my life in the past? In Matthew’s Gospel, three times we read the phrase, “from that time on” to signal a shift in the life of Jesus. Can we identify the significant times in our lives when we could say, “From that time on, I . . .”
Celebrations at Easter also include other signs of new life, for example, bunnies and eggs. When I was very little, not having grown up on a farm, I believed that bunnies laid the Easter eggs! What did I know about new life? We celebrate, too, with traditions in our families and churches. In many cultures, people bring the foods they plan to serve on Easter Day to the church for a blessing. I remember the first year I participated in the Blessing of the Easter Foods. The pastor had explained that we were to bring this food to church on Saturday at noon. My family was traveling from a distance on Saturday and we had decided to celebrate Easter with brunch, instead of a big dinner. When I arrived at church, the table was spread with Italian Easter bread, Ukranian eggs, Paska breads of all kinds, lamb-decorated cakes, dinner rolls in the shape of doves, and more. In my basket, I had brought a carton of milk, a dozen eggs (not even dyed), a pound of bacon, fresh fruit, and store-bought English muffins. My literal interpretation of “foods you plan to serve” caused me great embarrassment!
By the way, if you are looking for some great recipes for Easter and other holiday celebrations, go to www.catholiccuisine.blogspot.com.
I leave you with this question: “Where do you see resurrection (new life) in your life today?” Don’t be afraid to roll away the stone.