Lent is over. It ended with a word: alleluia! The Lord is risen! He is risen indeed! The fasting, prayer and almsgiving of Lent, brought us to this moment: the death and resurrection of Jesus. Giving up meat, alcohol, chocolate, coffee, all of this pales next to the agony of the cross and the glory of His rising from the dead. As we prayed on the Easter Vigil “This is our Passover feast, when Christ, the true Lamb, is slain, whose blood consecrates the homes of all believers.” We have been consecrated by His blood.
We began this journey in the sorrow of Ash Wednesday and we end it in the joy of Easter. During the Easter Vigil we heard that, “this is the night when Christians everywhere, washed clean of sin and freed from all defilement, are restored to grace and grow together in holiness.” This past weekend, and throughout the Easter season, we do not merely remember a past event, we live it anew as we wash feet, embrace the cross, light the candle in darkness, and break into the exaltation of the Gloria.
The days of the Triduum and the Easter season are our high holy days. Jesus promised us that “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.” And so on Holy Thursday, and at every Mass, Jesus gives us his flesh and blood to eat and drink. Paul boasted that he only preached “Christ and Him crucified.” Why? Because, the cross of Good Friday is the intersection of God judgment and mercy; an intersection that pays the ransom of sin, which we cannot pay. “To ransom a slave you [the Father] gave away your Son.” On the cross, He freed us from the sorrow of our ashes. But we are not only freed from sorrow. Paul tells us “if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.” This is the essential truth of Easter. In the Resurrection, we are more than just redeemed; we are raised up as sons and daughters of the Most High. This is what it means to be Christian: by dying with Christ for others, we raised with Christ in the Resurrection. We must love as He loved, and so be raised from death into the life of love.
These three feast days are the cause of celebrating. Paul invites us to “Rejoice in the Lord always; I say it again, rejoice!” We cast aside our fasting because “the attendants [us] of the bridegroom [Jesus] cannot mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them, can they?” In this season of Easter, which lasts until the Pentecost on May 27, the Church asks us to celebrate in the joy of the Resurrection. We live this celebration through prayer, love of others, and feasting. An Easter carol proclaims that our Easter season is full of heavenly and earthly joy.
Hilariter, Alleluia, Hilariter, Alleluia.
The whole bright world rejoices now, Hilariter!
The birds do sing from every bough, Alleluia!
Then shout beneath the racing skies, Hilariter!
To Him who rose that we might rise, Alleluia!
The ‘hilariter’ of Easter is our human celebration with food, drink, and Easter eggs. The ‘Alleluia’ is human joy raised up to the divine. Thus we must rejoice by celebrating and loving God and all people. From all of us at the Heart of the Matter: have a happy and blessed Easter season.
He is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! Hilariter! Alleluia!