Augustine once proclaimed, “We are an Easter people and ‘Alleluia’ is our song!”
When the Easter Vigil’s beauty is over, when family visits have come to an end, and when the last egg is finally found in the yard, we must not forget that Easter is not merely a one-day celebration. It is a fifty-day celebration. And more than that, it is a way of life.
As Christians, we face each day with the Easter joy of the Resurrection, knowing that our Savior came and destroyed death. We can walk as people who know the end of the story: Christ wins. Because of this, every day should be marked with hope and joy. Every day should be faced with the fortitude and peace that no matter what happens today, we know heaven is waiting. And heaven is worth it.
But we also have to remember that Easter joy is different from the joy the world wants to sell us. The world tells us that happiness and joy are found in a life free from suffering. The world wants to us to be lured in to believing the happy life is the perfect life, like something from The Truman Show or the prettiest flawless Instagram feed.
But notice: Christ did not take away our physical suffering and death. Easter is not about being spared from death, but is about being able to share in Christ’s victory. Onward, Christian soldiers! We go forward, knowing that following our King means following him to death … but also through death, to heaven.
Easter joy does not mean our life will be free from the suffering we faced during Lent. A good friend of mine faced this quite vividly when he had to bury his mother while still in the Easter octave. We still have to face the hardship and suffering that plagues our earthly life. Sometimes, life doesn’t get easier after Easter. In fact, sometimes the cross gets even heavier. What changes is that after that first Easter, we now have someone to help us carry that cross.
After Pentecost, the Apostles left the Upper Room with joy. But they did not leave it to face a life full of comfort and earthly happiness. Instead, they left that Upper Room to face the exact same thing they been hiding from after Good Friday: persecution and suffering. What had changed? They were facing it with the joy of Christ. It’s the perfect joy that St. Francis teaches us about in the famous story with Brother Leo. What is perfect joy? When we are united to Christ.
We are an Easter people. That does not mean a life free from death, but a life that can stare death in the face, knowing it won’t have the last word. Our joy is not found in a life free from suffering, but in one that knows the suffering has an answer—and that answer is heaven. Alleluia!