St. Joseph’s Seminary
The climax of the Christian calendar is, without a doubt, Easter Sunday. Ending the solemn Lenten season and the darkness of Good Friday and Holy Saturday with the promise of eternal life, Easter Sunday fills us with enthusiasm and joy. But now, just two weeks later, Easter is but a memory and our minds are surely turning to the summer ahead and to the graduations, weddings and happy holidays we have anticipated all winter long. Where has our Easter enthusiasm and joy gone? Can we get it back and keep Easter alive although the day itself has passed?
For the Apostles, the days immediately following Easter were full of amazement and mystery as they contemplated the empty tomb. Then, on the first Sunday after Easter, huddled together in fear in a closed room, Jesus suddenly appears to them and speaks His joy-filled message: “Peace be with you!” He breathes upon them and says, “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you. Receive the Holy Spirit!” He tells them, “If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven.” [Jn 20:19-23].
Their response to this blessed sight is abundant Apostolic Joy, for he is calling them to share in His own mission, the one He personally received from His Father. The Council of Trent teaches that in this act, Jesus instituted the great Sacrament of Reconciliation extending to His Church for all time the gift of God’s mercy to anyone who sincerely asks for it. Filled with new life, the Apostles will soon go out to fearlessly preach the Good News to the world.
What a marvelous post-Easter scene! But, was this moment meant only for the Early Church on the original Octave night of the new Lord’s Day? No, it was meant for us, too. But, do we still feel the effects of the new life poured into our hearts on the Easter Sunday just passed? Do we truly accept the forgiveness offered to us as a result of that wonderful octave week?
Fortunately, we have the opportunity to reinvigorate the joy of Easter at each and every Sunday liturgy, for as Pope John Paul II taught in his Apostolic Letter, Dies Domini (The Lord’s Day), Sunday is a weekly Easter, the ‘8th Day’, the image of eternity—an indispensible day! Each Sunday Mass is the ultimate festival and it reveals the meaning of time as it memorializes Christ’s death and Resurrection in the past, allows us to re-experience it in the present, and in so doing, glimpse what heaven will be like in the future. This joyful celebration in song, prayer and sacrifice invites us all to go forth, from Mass to mission, to spread the Good News, too.
The old adage says: Tempus fugit! Time does indeed fly—so let us take up the message of this Apostolic Letter and be re-committed missionaries of the Mass and confer the Lord’s generous Mercy on all we encounter on life’s path.