Today, there is no shortage of fiestas. Our lives are full to the brim with celebrations that span a lifetime. From the moment of conception, to the last days of life, we celebrate with distinct memories, events and rituals marking the exuberance we feel in being alive.
Beyond the celebrations shaping our personal trajectories, we also have common festivities that capture national heritages, cultural group and social and political preferences. Think of Independence Day, St. Patrick’s Day or Cinco de Mayo as emblematic of our propensity to embrace the good and festive life. Incidentally, it makes little difference if I know what Cinco de Mayo stands for or if I am a devout Irish Catholic! What seems to matter is the collective festive mood they offer.
We can recognize a similar joyful disposition in our religious belonging. Particularly as Catholics, our lives reflect events and rituals that carry us from times of darkness to moments of great light. The liturgical calendar is peppered with vibrant celebrations — not the least of which is Easter. In the Paschal Triduum, in the span of three days, we move from the dark and cold tomb of Jesus’ death to the splendor and bright light of His resurrection on Easter Sunday.
Among the most remarkable characteristics of our Easter feast is the intensity and span of this extraordinary moment in our religious identity and life. In the Octave of Easter and subsequent Sundays of Easter, we go beyond a one-day affair, to a sustained time of prayerful celebration. Together in reflection, we enter a time of joy and newness of life in Christ.
In our liturgical celebrations, we hear anew of the different encounters between the resurrected Christ and the community. We hear how the apostle Thomas needed to touch the risen Christ to believe, and how Jesus eats a fish breakfast with His disciples — the fresh catch of the day! We remember how as followers of Jesus we, too, can recognize the resurrected Christ; like sheep, we hear and know the shepherd’s voice calling us by name. Attentively, we listen to the risen Christ telling us about the Advocate that His Father will send us: The Spirit of truth and consolation, who will teach us and guide us along the way — giving to each one of us what we need.
Truly, this Easter season invites us to grow in our nearness to the good news found in the risen Christ. More to the point, this festive and joyful time encourages us to share with others the fruits of our own personal encounters with the living Christ. To proclaim with confidence the extraordinary news of life before us. “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad” (Psalm 118). The day is now and our festive moment is the resurrection of our Lord.
Let us rise together in Christ and keep on walking with faith, hope and charity. Following in the footsteps of those that have gone before us, let us give away what we have generously received. “Peter said, ‘I have neither silver nor gold, but what I do have I give you: in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean, rise and walk’” (Acts 3: 1-10). May our encounter with the risen Christ continue to guide our steps and bring us closer to one another, healing and renewing our common life with great joy. Alleluia!
F. Javier Orozco
First published April 24, 2022 in the St. Louis Review