It has been a very trying time for all those who love God this previous season. In recalling the rejection, suffering and death of Jesus we been brought to tears -- realizing that it is our sins that have cause Him so much suffering. We have also found many occasions to take up our own crosses with patience and love and unite our difficulties with Jesus’ sufferings. It appears that the greater our love becomes, the greater must be our sufferings and sorrows.
Our faithfulness in these crosses and burdens has given us an insight into the love of God for us and our own love (or lack of love) for Him, but most importantly allows us to experience with ever increasing felicity the joys of the Resurrection.
With the passing of Lent we have put off the old man and the old leaven as St. Paul says in today’s Epistle. We are to feast not with the old leaven of malice and wickedness, but rather with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. We have confessed our sins and made firm resolutions not to return to them anymore; we have done penance and now receive Our Lord in the Holy Eucharist and have (at least) sufficient grace to continue in this direction of sanctification.
Now is the time for us to rejoice. It is a time of celebration, but it is not to be a celebration in sin or of the worldly ways, but rather a celebration in the new life of virtue and grace. Very often the very opportunities for us to celebrate in a true Christ like manner degenerate into occasions to offend God and drag our souls down into the mire. We do not cleanse our souls only to dirty them up again. Our hope and goal is to keep them cleansed and to ever purify them more and more. In this manner we are to draw closer and closer to Christ and our eternal happiness with Him in Heaven.
Easter and the many other great feasts of the Church that we celebrate are a foretaste of the joys that await us for a true and faithful following of Christ. The joys of heaven are unspeakable and far beyond anything that we can even hope for or imagine. Easter, if we have properly prepared ourselves, is likewise filled with unspeakable joys, and yet, this is only a very small portion of what awaits the faithful in eternity.
As the holy women in today’s Gospel approached the tomb of Jesus, they must have been filled with sorrow, expecting to find His beaten, bruised, and tortured Body so that they might anoint It and bestow on His Body somewhat of the dignity and respect that He deserves in a proper burial. What range of emotions must have filled their souls as they left this sorrow behind when they discovered the tomb open and then to see the angel! What transports of joy to hear that Jesus is risen and that He is going before them into Galilee!
These transports of joy are meant to be ours also. They too often are not because of the hardness and coldness of our own hearts. Frequently we fail to experience these joys because we have not properly entered into the sorrow and suffering of Lent. Without the proper preparation of the Cross, there is no proper celebration in Easter.
In seeing somewhat of the joy of heaven in our Easter celebration let us never lose sight of the value of the Cross of Jesus and of our own. Let us never forget the price that has been paid for this joy and seek that we should never again return to that sad state of soul that we have just arisen from.