READ: ACTS 2:14, 22-33
On the day of Pentecost, Peter stood up with the Eleven,
raised his voice, and proclaimed:
"You who are Jews, indeed all of you staying in Jerusalem.
Let this be known to you, and listen to my words.
"You who are children of Israel, hear these words.
Jesus the Nazorean was a man commended to you by God
with mighty deeds, wonders, and signs,
which God worked through him in your midst, as you yourselves know.
This man, delivered up by the set plan and foreknowledge of God,
you killed, using lawless men to crucify him.
But God raised him up, releasing him from the throes of death,
because it was impossible for him to be held by it.
Here's a question: What is Easter really about? If you said, "The Resurrection", you're not wrong, but you're also only partly right. Yes, the day of Easter (and the Octave***) is specifically geared toward celebrating/ standing in awe of the Resurrection of Jesus. But Easter isn't just for celebration, it isn't just a day for us Catholics. It's a whole season, like Lent. In fact, it's longer than Lent, clocking in at a whole fifty days. Now, Lent has a goal, a purpose for us to get behind (I think this is one of the reasons we make such a big deal out it): to prepare us for Easter. We practice dying with Christ, in an intensified way, so that we can also rise with him. Easter as a season has a purpose as well: to prepare us for Pentecost. Pentecost is the power of the Resurrection poured out into our hearts. The new outpouring of the Holy Spirit, who is the abundant life that Jesus promises to give us in place of the old life of sin and death. During Easter we draw close to the Risen Jesus and allow him to open our hearts, so that, like St. Peter and the Apostles, we can receive a great outpouring of His grace in the Holy Spirit.
With that in mind, here are a couple of simple suggestions to make the most out of the Easter season. Firstly, don't stop praying just because lent is over! Prayer is where Jesus' Resurrection becomes our own. It's more than a self-help exercise or a technique for happiness. Prayer is "The life of the new heart" (CCC 2697). Lazarus didn't go back into his grave after Jesus called him back to life. Neither should we.
Secondly, don't stop celebrating! The word celebrate means to "frequent, or acknowledge". Think of ways that you can consistently "frequent or acknowledge" (by yourself and with your family and friends) the Resurrection of Jesus. Small example. Maybe you gave up Chocolate for lent. During Easter you could intentionally have a piece everyday, taking a moment before you eat it thanking the Lord for His new life. Bigger example, make a commitment to go to a daily Mass during the week, or pick a day to stop by the Church and pray for a few minutes on your way home from work or school.
Thirdly, invest in our community. After his Resurrection Jesus gathered the scattered disciples and Apostles and spent forty days teaching them the meaning of everything he had done. We are a parish community gathered around the Risen Jesus. We can't, and shouldn't live this life alone. This doesn't mean that you have to come to every parish function, or start volunteering for every ministry. It could be as simple as inviting some of the people that you see every week at Mass over for dinner to get to know them. Throw an Easter party. Get your friends together, go our for beers (or wine or whatever) and make a toast to the Risen Christ. Come to Adore Night #shamelessplug. Or you could join, or start a bible study (yes YOU could start a bible study. The Lord doesn't call the equipped, he equips the called. Ask Paul or Megan for help if you're interested.) Basically, be intentional about spending time/growing with people who share in the same risen life**.
What stood out to you in our Gospel today?
In what way are you going to continue your life of prayer this Easter?
How can you celebrate the Resurrection by yourself and with your family?
How can you invest more in our parish community?
How can you invite the Holy Spirit to prepare your heart for Pentecost?
Our Gospel tells us that it was "impossible" for death to hold Jesus down. How does this apply to the spiritual death of sin in our own lives?
*In the Jewish tradition important feasts were celebrated for eight days at a time. We have carried over that tradition with the most important feasts of our year, Christmas and Easter. During Octaves, everyday is kind of a mini Sunday. It's a time to feast physically and spiritually. There's no fasting. The Octave isn't some tradition for "super Catholics" only, but a call to all of us to set aside extra time to celebrate and contemplate the Risen One.
**Note, this does not mean cut yourself off from the world or become some sort of Christian clique.
R. Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope.
Keep me, O God, for in you I take refuge;
I say to the LORD, "My Lord are you."
O LORD, my allotted portion and my cup,
you it is who hold fast my lot.
I bless the LORD who counsels me;
even in the night my heart exhorts me.
I set the LORD ever before me;
with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.
Therefore my heart is glad and my soul rejoices,
my body, too, abides in confidence;
Because you will not abandon my soul to the nether world,
nor will you suffer your faithful one to undergo corruption.
You will show me the path to life,
fullness of joys in your presence,
the delights at your right hand forever.
R. Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope.
When__________ happens I will think of the Risen Jesus.