Note from Justin Huyck: I am pleased to welcome FAITHSHAPE’s first guest contributor. William Wainio is a seminarian for the Catholic Diocese of Youngstown, Ohio, and a dear friend.
Easter is canceled? Whoever heard of such an outrageous thought! Certainly, the faithful in many parts of the world will not be able to gather together and celebrate Holy Week and Easter as usual, but Easter is not canceled. Easter can never be canceled. In this time of global pandemic, I cannot help but reflect on how we, the daughters and sons of God, are called to celebrate Easter, now more than ever. Better yet, we are called to LIVE OUT EASTER! As Christians, our identity is to live every day with Easter at the very heart of our lives, for we are Easter people! We are travelers on a great journey that we call life and the risen Christ Jesus is our desired destiny.
The beloved pastor, poet, and author Fr. Joseph A. Fata understood this well. In 2011, five years before his death, he preached an Easter homily that later became his poem, If Easter People Only Knew! Fata proclaimed, “If Easter people only knew. We pass as pilgrims to a place called Easter. More than an idea or an ideology, certainly more than a day, Easter is a site located within the very heart of God.” Fr. Fata got it! He understood! Let us, the living, try to do the same. Let us try to understand that Easter is not simply one day. Easter is not simply an event that can be canceled if we are not gathered together in a brick and mortar church building. No! Easter is a way of living, a lifestyle. We need to live Easter! When we live Easter and share the joys of the paschal mystery with everyone in our lives, we truly celebrate Easter. And it is in our Easter living that we most truly shout, ALLELUIA, JESUS CHRIST IS OUR RISEN LORD!
Don’t limit Easter to one day, or a Church season – LIVE EASTER every day of your life. I know what you are thinking: “I can’t live Easter every day, that’s simply too hard!” Let me tell you, it is far from hard. Actually, it is so very easy. Live Easter every day by sharing a smile or a handshake with a friend or co-worker (when we can come within six feet of each other again). Live Easter by volunteering at your local food bank or soup kitchen a few times a year. Live Easter by checking on an elderly neighbor who has little to no family. Live Easter by helping a small child with their schoolwork. Live Easter by praying, every day, not for what you think you need or for what you want but pray asking God to give you what God wants you to have. It is scary, I know, but trust in God is another way of living Easter!
Can you see where I am going with this? Live Easter by being Easter for the sisters and brothers around you! Be like Christ and love one another. Remember the holy darkness that is Good Friday is always replaced and overcome by the Glorious Light of Easter. That will happen this year just as it has in the past whether you are ready for it or not. How do I know it will happen? Well, Fr. Fata’s thoughts give me hope. “If Easter-people only knew. This is the legacy of our Pilgrimage into Easter. Jesus did not stay in the manger. Jesus did not stay on the Cross. Jesus did not stay in the grave. Nor do we! When we venture on that Pilgrimage into Easter, we are inflamed. We are earthquaked. We rise! If Easter-people only knew.”
The best part about all this is we do know! We know now more than ever that we cannot (and should not) live without Christ! What a wild journey we are on, but no matter what happens, we will pass as pilgrims and as the family of God through the place we call Easter. Or maybe, just maybe, we are already there! So live in the heart of God every day, by living Easter! By being Christ for one another.
This reflection uses segments of the poem “If Easter People Only Knew” by Fr. Joseph A. Fata who died on August 1, 2016. His poem was originally used as an Easter homily on Sunday April 24, 2011.
While the poem has since been reprinted in his book Chronology of a Life Well Loved – Poems & Reflections, the parts used for this reflection were taken from the original copy of his homily.
Resurrection of Christ, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. http://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=56588 [retrieved April 10, 2020]. Original source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:0000_Mosaics_of_Resurrection_of_Christ.JPG – Eugenio Hansen, OFS. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial ShareAlike 3.0 License.