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Easter joy

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On the Monday of Holy Week, we stuffed several dozen plastic eggs with sweet treasures and bound them tightly in a large plastic bag and put them in the back of the car so that I wouldn’t forget them. Then, we drove them nearly 400 miles north to hide them in the magical backyard of the house where my grandchildren live. On Easter Sunday, those four little ones and my two youngest children searched for bright eggs under daffodils and yet-to-bloom lilies. With every splash of color, there was a little burst of expectant joy. Always, always from the littlest to the biggest, we are a people on the hunt for joy.

Jesus promised his disciples that their hearts would rejoice with a joy that could never be taken from them (Jn 16:22), and he promises us the same joy. This is the resurrection joy, the inexpressible, glorious exultation in the risen Christ. And as I match the halves of all these now-empty eggs and carefully store them until next year, I am reminded that not only is Easter a season, but that Easter joy is ours to claim every day of the year. We can even look upon the cross with joy because we know how the story ends. It ends with a beginning, the beginning of a life of Christian joy.

Christian joy and Christian works are inextricably intertwined. Doing good is how we live out our faith. We fall so in love with Jesus that he seeps into our beings and we behave like he does. We do the work that he would do. And when we live like that, we have the joy that Jesus does — deep, abiding joy that compels other people to want to know the source. There is a positive tension though, between faith and works. Our work can transform us into beings more and more like Christ, but only if we let it — only if we let him. God transforms our work into holy joy.

Recently, I stood before an astonishing painting. Every brushstroke seemed to be transcendent. It was an inspired work of art. What part did the artist play? She lifted the brush. Day after day, she put paint to canvas. And her work was like a prayer, light and lovely and full of joy. Each stroke, it seemed, was inspired.

God can inspire painters and he can inspire surgeons. He can inspire teachers and he can inspire newspaper columnists. Just as with praying, the joy comes as we do it; the inspiration infuses souls during the work. And with work inspired by the God of all joy, we are living Easter glory with our lives.

As the children scrambled all over the yard, gathering eggs into baskets, hoarding them so as to stockpile the joy they held inside, I wanted to remind them that the feast has just begun. We have a banquet spread before us here in this life — a life of joy that cannot be contained in the confines of plastic shells, a life that will burst forth in an abundance of blessing and break the egg.

We meet the master in prayer, and then in work. We live infused with him — the God alive on earth. And we cannot keep from dancing with joy.

Foss, whose website is takeupandread.org, is a freelance writer from Northern Virginia.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2019