Easter is a collection of contradictions, isn’t it? We get to Good Friday after 6 weeks of plain, undecorated liturgy only to have an even more sparse liturgy, chock full of the bottom-line basics. Sights and sounds are harsh – there is nothing pleasant about 3pm on Good Friday in any Catholic church. Statues are covered, music is subdued, the congregation’s standing time seems to go on forever making legs stiff and children impatient. There is the adoration of the cross, petitions for all of everything, then Communion and we file out. Done. Dead.
Fast forward 24 hours and the church is transformed, almost unrecognizable in its relation to the previous space. There are flowers and candles everywhere, hours seems like minutes, there’s greenery, incense (at least in our parish), bells, music, reds, yellows, whites – the senses are overwhelmed in the contradiction. And we process joyfully down the aisle of salvation history, re-learning and celebrating the miraculous marvels of our loving and living God-Man.
I sense that so much more is going on in my soul than I allow myself, or even have the capacity to consciously comprehend. And I move through my daily routine now, as if nothing happened. But the world is changed, different in a way only those living in Christ can sense. If we have allowed it, we have been moved and changed, just as Isaiah exhorted us to “…enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back, lenthen your cords, strengthen your stakes…”. Morning has broken upon us after a particularly long and arduous night, and I am glad, content.
We were made for this. We are not a Calvary People, but an Easter People. We cannot have one without the other, but we are not to be frozen, stuck in death and despair. We were made for the fullness of glory and life. Sufferings are not always relieved after Easter Sunday – but there is a lightness in my heart that I pray is in yours as well. And that right there, friends, is the contradiction of following Christ. Light in the midst of the darkness of pain. Joy in suffering. Good Friday’s cross with Easter Sunday’s empty tomb.
“And the angel answering, said to the women: Fear not; for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he is risen, as he said. Come, and see the place where the Lord was laid. And going quickly, tell ye his disciples that he is risen: and behold he will go before you into Galilee; there you shall see him. Lo, I have foretold it to you. And they went out quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy, running to tell his disciples…” Matthew 28:5-8