Happy Easter, EA family! Read a special message from Fr. Tim Gavin below, or watch the video at the right.
Easter Bonus: Hear the sounds of the season on the newest episode of the official EA podcast, EA Unlocked.
I pray you are doing well during the Coronavirus pandemic and choosing hope over anxiety because hope does not disappoint. In ancient times, one Christian would greet another with, "Alleluia, Christ is risen." The other would respond, "The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia." It is still the opening acclamation during the Easter season in the liturgy. This exchanged reflects the solidarity that the Resurrection brings to all of humankind. The Resurrection reminds us that everything can be transformed. The Resurrection reminds us that we can choose hope over anxiety, courage over fear, light over darkness, and empathy over apathy.
My favorite Easter scriptural passage comes from Luke's Gospel, when Jesus is walking with two people on the road to Emmaus. They do not recognize Jesus. However, Jesus reveals to them that all things necessary for salvation can be found in scripture. After he vanishes, they understand who he was and say to one another, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?" The simplicity of the passage is based on a typical walk from one place to another and the sharing of a meal. "Jesus was at the table with them, took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them." This simple act opened their eyes to the transformational power of that first Easter Sunday.
The Easter story – from Palm Sunday through Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday - reminds us that God is with us in our suffering, in our darkness, and in our agony, but God creates enough room for healing, light, and joy to grow and expand in our hearts, in our lives, and in our world. Easter creates for us the hallmark of the Gospel message to love one another as God loves us. We are called to a life of compassion, not a life of competition. We are called to a life of solidarity, not a life of discord. We are called to a life of service, not a life of self-interest. Jesus reminds us that the greatest love is "to lay down one's life for one's friends" (John 15:13). Jesus also reinforced the call to make the stranger our neighbor. We know from his interactions with the Samaritan woman at the well, the Syrophoenician woman, and Zacchaeus, that Jesus expanded the definition of neighbor, making it more inclusive. He broke down the social barriers that kept "the other" at bay. Jesus offers us a way to welcome others in radical hospitality, encouraging us to be guided by love-for rather than fear-of those who are different from us. This radical hospitality is an essential building block for community. The Resurrection of Christ reminds us to live into authentic community where we move from an exclusive notion to a more universal and inclusive vision of belonging to one another. This movement of Resurrection requires a mature and confident faith in which one moves from self at the center to self with the other. The Resurrection is not an isolated and individual moment in history. The Resurrection is a moment that transcends time and space and even intellectual prowess. It is love personified and relived from one day to another so that we realize and live into the call to lay down our life for our neighbor. This may mean not always having our way or always being first or always having what we want. This may mean giving into others or being last or letting go of our wants and desires.
I can only imagine what it was like for Mary Magdalene and the other women who, on the first Easter Sunday, came and found the tomb empty. Their confusion at what they were seeing or not seeing must have been mystifying. Their fear at what they were seeing or not seeing must have been suffocating. Their anxiety at what they were seeing or not seeing must have been paralyzing. However, all of that dissolved when they realized that Jesus rose from the dead. They found at that moment hope does not disappoint. As I walk about our empty campus, even though I can't equate it with the empty tomb, I resist the urge to become forlorn. I resist the temptation to become forlorn because I know deep in my heart that soon we will back together – vibrant with joy, diligent with activity, and excited with engagement. We will as an authentic community come together on campus so that we can help one another to grow strong in Mind, Body and Spirit. We will work to become the best people was can be, people who realize we are part of something greater than ourselves, people who know the transformative power of community, and people who love one another. In the end, Easter reminds us that the light is always greater than the darkness.
Happy Easter and be well, my friends, God bless you and know that I miss you.