“Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are an Easter people and hallelujah is our song!” – Pope Saint John Paul II.
Easter is my favorite season. Who doesn’t love fifty days of celebrating after forty days of fasting? It feels great to have finished the strict disciplines of Lent. Flowers are beginning to bloom, the air is getting a little warmer (unless you live in Michigan like me), and there just seems to be a fresh start on life. However, every year I have big plans for myself for Lent, and almost every time I get to Holy Week I feel disappointed in myself. Lent wasn’t as life-changing as I dreamed it would be. Aren’t the disciplines we practice for Lent supposed to change us in some way? Shouldn’t my life be different when I reach the Easter season? Even if I fulfilled what I set out to do during Lent, I am often tempted to go back to “life as usual” afterward.
I wonder if that’s how the apostles felt after Jesus died. Surely they knew their life would be different after encountering Jesus; however, when He died they must have been discouraged. Last week at daily Mass we heard from the Gospel of John, Chapter 21. Peter, after the resurrection, had gone back to his old way of life – fishing. In this passage, Jesus found Peter, along with other disciples, in the same place He found them when He called them to His mission the first time – on a fishing boat. This time when Peter saw Jesus out on the shore, he jumped out of the boat to go meet him. Then, over breakfast, Jesus gave Peter his mission: “Feed my sheep.”
What Peter soon realized, and what I need to realize is that I can’t go back to “life as usual” after Lent. Each year when I take the time to reflect on the death of Jesus and His miraculous rising from the dead, it should change me. So this Easter season, although I do plan to start eating dessert again, I also plan on keeping up the extra prayer time I have now scheduled into my day. For it is in those times of prayer that Jesus will give me my mission.
The real reason that Easter is my favorite season is because I have the hope of everlasting life. Death is not the end because Jesus conquered it! Now I can rejoice that one day I can be with Him in heaven. Then it will not just be a fifty day celebration, but an eternal celebration!