Let’s celebrate Easter for a while

by 24britishtvMarch 31, 2024, 4 p.m. 24
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This year, I’m glad to see Lent come to an end, and not just because of Easter Alleluias and Cadbury dark chocolate eggs.

It was a tough Lent. Part of it, of course, had nothing explicitly to do with Lent. The news has generally been dreadful, a reminder, I suppose of why we need saving. This broken, battered, cruel world needs a savior. I need a savior.

Perhaps this was not true for you, but my Lent was especially difficult because I had trouble keeping my Lenten resolves. None of them were all that hard, by the way. But each of them demanded a certain amount of diligence in the sacrifice, and diligence was a struggle this year.

I won’t go into all the bloody details, except to say that when “Son of a … ” flew from my lips, only to remember that I had resolved to refrain from saying “Son of a … ,” well, it was that kind of Lent.

One of my favorite Easter reflections is from St. John Chrysostom. He is a saint revered by both the Eastern and Western churches, and for many good reasons. But this quote from his Easter homily proclaiming the time to celebrate reveals his Christ-like love of our poor humanity.

“First and last alike receive your reward; rich and poor, rejoice together! Sober and slothful, celebrate the day! You that have kept the fast, and you that have not, rejoice today for the Table is richly laden! Feast royally on it, the calf is a fatted one. Let no one go away hungry. Partake, all, of the cup of faith. Enjoy all the riches of His goodness! Let no one grieve at his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed. Let no one mourn that he has fallen again and again; for forgiveness has risen from the grave.”

“Forgiveness has risen from the grave,” so “you that have kept the fast, and you that have not,” come and celebrate all the same. All of us: Those of us who didn’t do so well this Lent. Those of us who kept our resolutions with gritted teeth and quiet grumbling. Those of us who sacrificed with a prayerful soul and a smile.

St. Chrysostom reminds us that all of us are invited to the feast: The lazy and the good, the sober and the slothful, rich and poor.

In another part of the same homily, he invokes that great parable that so frustrates Americans. It is the one about the workers in the vineyard (Mt 20:1-16) who show up at different times of the day, yet all get the same payment at day’s end. Boy, does that frost our puritan cupcake.

Easter, St. Chrysostom says, is the same reward for all of us. Lent is a good discipline, a way of reminding us of the Lord’s own suffering and sacrifice on our behalf. But that sacrifice has been already made for us, and now in this glorious Easter season, we can celebrate that he truly is risen and death defeated.

And if I may suggest an Easter resolution: Let’s not let Easter be forgotten in a flash. We spent 40 days in the desert of Lent. Let us now, as they did in St. Chrysostom’s day, spend 40 days rejoicing.

Break out the Cadbury eggs! Celebrate with special foods! Express gratitude for the blessing that this, the greatest feast in the church calendar, truly is.

There will be other Lents. There is just one Easter event. Let’s remind this tormented old world that there is a happy ending.

Greg Erlandson is an award-winning Catholic publisher, editor and journalist whose column appears monthly at OSV News. Follow him on Twitter @GregErlandson.

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