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We are Easter people

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"Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are Easter people and Alleluia is our song." St. John Paul II

Alleluia is our song. But do we dare sing it? Last year, our churches were closed for Easter. We thought it was all a temporary blip. In reality, it was just the beginning of a yearlong odyssey that has palpably changed the demeanor of the world.

We have become angry people. We have become suspicious people. We are no doubt weary people, worn down by the burdens of our times. Collectively, it seems, we have forgotten that we are Easter people.

Alleluia means "praise the Lord." Can we do that? Do we do that? Do we dare to do that? I have found that noting beauty, goodness and truth these days is met with outrage. We are discouraged from taking time to praise the Lord in all things. Instead, we are supposed to be angry all the time, wary of the motives of our neighbors, keeping each other safely several arms’ distances away. Increasingly, a person who wants to live as an Easter person will find the world hostile to the message. Increasingly, the world chooses to stew in despair. The world wants to be afraid. The Easter people want to trust in the Lord.

God wants to offer mercy to the broken, fearful world. Because of mercy, there is reason for a hearty Alleluia. As the Easter season begins and we look to Divine Mercy Sunday, we grow in a deeper understanding that because of Christ’s great sacrifice, we have been extended glorious mercy. Because of the resurrection, we have a real, enduring reason for rejoicing.

"Do not be afraid. Open wide the doors for Christ." St. John Paul II

We can live curled up in fear, hands tightly clenched, wary of our neighbor and angry at the world, or we can throw open the doors of our hearts and let love prevail. The church offers us all we need to proceed in love. (And yes, I am aware that the people of the church are flawed. The Holy Spirit can work with flawed people, so read on.)

We need confession and we need Communion. And the time is now.

Sin is a breach of relationship with God and with other people. It’s also an injury to ourselves. When we sin, we distort God’s vision for who we are intended to be. We were created for goodness and holiness. We were created to be close to God. Sin puts distance between us and God. And then it distorts the way we think about ourselves so that our internal conversation is very vulnerable to the lies of the devil. We believe the worst about ourselves; we believe the worst about each other.

Carrying the burden of sin makes us less able to lean into the Christian life fully. It makes us less open to grace (or cut off entirely from grace). Grace is what enables us to do what God intends us to do. When we cut off the grace, we create a breach with God and we also create a breach with other members of the community.

When we cut ourselves off from God, we begin to suffocate. Our human, Christian relationships die. We become angry and resentful and suspicious of one another.

Confession is about both forgiveness and conversion. It is about the real and free grace of forgiveness, but it’s also about changing our ways, amending our lives, avoiding the near occasion of sin — it’s about true conversion.

It’s about changing, about beginning again. And who among us doesn’t really need a new beginning right about now?

This is our time! It’s time for Christ’s infinite mercy. It’s time to kneel before the throne of grace and hear the beautiful words of absolution. And then it’s time to go forth, strengthened by the grace of holy communion, to do actual good in a broken world. It’s time to celebrate and pursue beauty, goodness and truth — not to be shamed for it. It’s time to live as if we truly trust Jesus, as if we know that we belong to him and he loves us dearly and the gates of hell will not prevail because of just that truth.

"Those who sincerely say ‘Jesus, I trust in You’ will find comfort in all their anxieties and fears. There is nothing more man needs than Divine Mercy — that love which is benevolent, which is compassionate, which raises man above his weakness to the infinite heights to the holiness of God." St. John Paul II

Foss, whose website is takeupandread.org, writes from Connecticut. 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2021