It’s nearly impossible not to sing a verse from The Righteous Brothers with that title, isn’t it?
We’re coming up on the third Sunday of Easter and many people don’t seem to realize that it’s still Easter. That’s right, the Easter season (sometimes referred to as Eastertide) starts on Easter Sunday and lasts until Pentecost Sunday. Generally speaking, everyone acknowledges the importance of Easter Sunday but it seems attention and Mass attendance wanes the further away from Lent we get.
Collectively, we all seem to do a pretty good job during the Lenten season… we give something up, stick to it (most of us), and recognize that we’re doing it in memory of Christ’s sacrifice for us. There’s extra observances to pay attention to like fasting on Fridays, extra activities like the Stations of the Cross, and it’s generally just easier to stay focused.
But then, Easter Sunday rolls around and we all celebrate as well we should. Using our household as an example, we quickly return to the habit that we gave up for Lent despite the fact that we intended to keep it up for longer than just Lent. That “boom, it’s over!” mentality is part of what I think takes away from the impression that Easter Sunday should make.
My wife, Tasha, and I were talking about this phenomenon. She commented that it helps her to keep focused on the joy of Easter by remembering the sorrowful part of the end of Lent. She imagines what it must have been like for Mary and the Apostles to see the Lord beaten, crucified, and buried and the sense of desperation and loss that must have gripped them. She noted how much easier it is for us because we had the rest of the story, we know the happy ending and we can take it for granted.
I appreciate the Easter season because of all of the post-Resurrection appearances of Christ that we get to hear about. I love to reflect on the confusion and joy that is experienced by the Apostles. I love the accounts of Christ appearing on the road to Emmaus and the Sea of Tiberias in such a way where those that knew him on Earth initially don’t recognize him. It makes me stop and think if I would recognize Christ if he were to present himself like this to me. I put myself in the shoes of the Apostles and think about what it must have been like to behold Christ this way.
What was next for these men? It was a life of travels, trials, persecution, and death. All but John were killed for preaching in the name of Christ. This is a testament to their experiences… this wasn’t just some hallucination to them. They didn’t make it up. They believed fervently enough to suffer and die for the Lord because they saw him both suffer and die in an earthly body and then return to them in a glorified body. The Easter season presents an opportunity to learn alongside these men what truly experiencing God is all about.
Over the last few weeks, I have come across many resources that suggest using the Easter season to regroup and reform your spiritual life so that you can live out the year in a more faithful way. In my next article, we’ll look at a few of these ideas in detail. Stay tuned!