A religious sister who had just completed a few days of silent retreat in our community said to me, “Your place is so peaceful and convenient for prayer. What about you, are you a peaceful person?”
Her interesting question reminded me that it was possible for us to live in peaceful settings and still lack peace of heart. We can be in a place of plenty and abundance and still find ourselves fretting and worrying about tomorrow. We can live in a place of prayer and still not be prayerful. More tragically, we could enthusiastically proclaim and wish others “Happy Easter” without being Easter persons ourselves.
We are not Easter people because we tend to see Easter as only a past event that we somehow remember and celebrate yearly. How easily we thus reduce Easter to a memorial of Christ’s rising from the grave over two thousand years ago. We fail to realize that, because of our baptism, Easter is not just a past event to be remembered and celebrated but also an ever-present reality that moves us and impacts our lives today.
We become Easter people today by the faith of our Baptism, “We were buried with Him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”(Rom 6:4) Through baptism, we are united with the risen Christ and God is with us always. This is why our “newness of life” as Easter people must be a mirror reflection of the life of Christ from the moment of His baptism in the Jordan River.
St. Peter describes three aspects of the earthly life of Jesus Christ after His baptism that we must reflect as Easter people.
Firstly, while living in a sinful world, Jesus did all the good that the Father willed for Him for the liberation and healing of all humanity. After the Father had anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and power, He “went about doing good and healing all those oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.” He did not succumb, get distracted, or become discouraged by the many forms of evil in the world.
By virtue of our own baptism, we too are to do good that God inspires in us always and everywhere, and not once in a while or when convenient and beneficial for us. We can no longer blame anyone or worldly influences for our inaction or sinful choices. As instruments of divine goodness, we are too are equipped to bring healing and hope to all by our words and actions. Easter people neither surrender in the battle against sin in any way nor do they become accomplices in the moral misconduct of others. Neither are they indifferent to sin in the world.
But doing all the good inspired by God was not enough for Jesus. The second aspect is that Jesus freely endured suffering from others, “They put Him to death by hanging Him on a tree.” He experienced the murderous hatred and ingratitude of those whom He loved and died for.
Because of our incorporation into Christ by baptism, we too will suffer evil from others in this world, “You will be hated by all because of my name.”(Mt 10:22) We shall even face strong temptations in this life, “In this world, you will have tribulations.”(Jn 16:33) The grace of baptism is not intended to dispense us from the pains that come from our relationships with others, “We always carry in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of may also be manifested in our bodies.”(2Cor 4:9) By this baptismal grace, we can endure all these out of love for God.
Lastly, Jesus conquered evil by rising from the dead by the power of His Father, “This man God raised on the third day and granted that He be visible.”(See Acts 10:37-43) Because the ultimate victory of Jesus was not an earthly victory, His Resurrection is a divine guarantee of our heavenly reward if we place all our trust in Him and remain His Easter people till our last breaths.
By the grace of baptism, we too know that God will surely reward us for the good that we do and the evil that we endure for Him. We also have that conviction that sin, death, and the devil will not ultimately prevail over us. We never lose hope because we know that we will be raised with Jesus one day even if we do not see the earthly rewards for our labors for Christ.
The Resurrection proves that Jesus always fulfills His promise to us. The disciples did not believe in His promise that He would rise from the grave after three days, “For they did not yet understand the Scriptures that He had to rise from the dead.”(Jn 20:9) His fidelity to His promises makes our own fidelity to Him possible. From now on, we have no valid reason to ever doubt His faithfulness to us.
We are the ones who need to renew our baptismal promises to Him because we are not always faithful to Him as His Easter people. How many of us have been faithful to our baptismal promises to renounce sin and Satan, believe in the Triune God, live fully in the communion of saints, and serve God in His Holy Catholic Church? This is why we renew our baptismal promises in the Easter Sunday Eucharist.
Let us also renew these baptismal promises at the many Easter moments that Jesus provides for us. Numerous Easter moments abound in our Catholic life – experiencing divine forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, receiving and offering this same forgiveness to others, encountering Christ in the Eucharist at Mass or at Eucharistic adoration, connecting with others in loving service, spending silent time with God in prayer, reading, meditating, and communing with Him through the sacred scriptures, etc. No matter what our pasts have been, we can make use of such moments to begin again to be the truly Easter people that God is always calling us to be.
May the grace of our Eucharist today deepen our communion with the risen Christ and sustain us in being Easter people all the days of our lives. Amen.
Happy Easter to you all, God’s Easter People!
Glory to Jesus!!! Honor to Mary!!!
image: Resurrection of Jesus (Stradch, Ukraine) / ANDRIY B / Shutterstock