“You know what has happened…,” says Peter in the first reading of Easter Sunday. Yes, we know what Jesus did and had done to him. We know this Jesus more intimately after these weeks of Lent. We know ourselves better too, our dyings and our risings.
Yes, we know. We can recount how Jesus journeyed to the truth of who he was/is, the truth he learned through encounters with his beloved Father and with his fellow humans. Throughout these latter weeks of Lent we watched in awe as he came to know the inevitability of the cross. We have been present to his inner struggle to be true to the work entrusted to him by his Father, to trust that the seed of his own life, once lost, would bear great fruit.
Yes, we know. We people of God know the journey to our own Jerusalem. We are learning, in our struggles along the way and in our relationships, the truth of who God calls us to be as baptized disciples and as church. We have tried to be faithful through these weeks that the Church offers us year after year for our formation as a people. Once again, we have drawn strength from coming closer to Jesus’ own struggle.
Yes, we know. We know the daily living and dying. Sometimes we even come in touch with larger-than-life experiences of vital life or of soul-wrenching death. The Paschal Triduum brings us to exalted levels of such experience. Holy Thursday stirs a holy desire to live Jesus’ way of loving service and his total reversal of power. We are overwhelmed with gratitude that his desire to be present and working in us always has given us the gift of Eucharist. “This body will be given for you,” he tells us.
On Good Friday the reality of those words pierces our defenses. We face truth. Our world is unjust, and we are part of the unjust structures. Jesus is victim, and so are many among us. Our very earth is victim. Truth demands that we stand with Jesus for the victims. Living through these days forms us as church to live in truth. Each year we know it more deeply.
At the Easter Vigil we know ourselves as church more completely than at any other liturgy. “This is the night” when we exult in the victory of life over death; we glory in our saving history; we rejoice with new members and renew our own baptism. Our faith is enlivened and our love expanded. It will take the next fifty days of Eastertide to explore and celebrate the mysteries of this night.
May we also come to know resurrection. We want to know it in the same visceral way that we know struggle and death. We truly want to be an alleluia people, able to sing in the face of death, to trust that we and our loved ones will rise with Jesus. We wish to clear out the old yeast of malice and wickedness to live in sincerity and truth. We desire to work for peace so that all may live in the light of Christ. Such is the formation we experience in these days of the Paschal Mystery.
How can we sustain and realize this hope to which we are called? Daily in Eucharist we the church do again what Jesus did and in so doing open ourselves to the transforming action of God in our lives. “I will give you a new heart and place a new spirit within you…” The movement from death to life is the movement of our lives. We have come to know this. Alleluia. Alleluia.
–Sr. Margaret O’Brien, SC
Sr. Margaret serves in Congregational leadership as Assistant to the President and Treasurer. She is a former educator, administrator, and VP for mission services in an SC-sponsored health system.