He has Risen indeed

Happy Easter all!! It’s that time of year when all the bunnies are put away, the eggs have all been found, and we are gradually working off all the chocolate and pies that we ate. We have also probably stopped saying, “Happy Easter.” The truth is though, that we have 50 days of Easter. Fifty days to celebrate the Resurrection of Christ! During this season we not only celebrate the Resurrection but also the Ascension of Christ into Heaven and the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles. What a truly beautiful season it is.

This got me thinking about the Risen Lord. He is truly alive but is He truly alive in my life? Celebrating this Easter season means celebrating that Christ is alive not only 2,000 years ago but each and every day since then. The words in Mark at the tomb still ring true for us: “He is not here. He is risen” (Mk 16:6). I remember to celebrate the Resurrection of Christ every Easter but I know that it is not something of which I am always aware.

The truth that He is alive and alive in our lives is something that we need to celebrate every day. The Risen Lord very much wants to be a part of our everyday life. It is not always easy to recognize Him in the midst of what can sometimes seem like a never-ending Good Friday. Even some of His first disciples had difficulty recognizing Him after the Resurrection. We read in the story of the disciples on the road to Emmaus that they did not know it was Christ until He sat and broke bread with them. That is the key to recognizing the Risen Christ in day to day, to stay rooted in the Sacraments and to walk and talk with Him every day. He is our Risen Lord.

The second thing we celebrate in these 50 days of Easter is the Ascension of Jesus into Heaven where He not only takes His rightful place in His Kingdom but He waits for us to join us. During these 50 days, we celebrate the fact that the gates of Heaven have been opened for us, that we now have a free and undeserved access to Heaven. We are celebrating that we have been granted eternal life. Jesus reminds us that He is “the Resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in Me, though he may die, shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die” (Jn 11:25-26). Through Him and our faith in Him, we have access to Heaven. 

Cardinal John Henry Newman reminds us, “Christ is already in that place of peace, which is all in all. He is on the right hand of God. He is hidden in the brightness of the radiance which issues from the everlasting throne. He is in the very abyss of peace, where there is no voice of tumult or distress, but a deep stillness — stillness, that greatest and most awful of all goods which we can fancy; that most perfect of joys, the utter profound, ineffable tranquility of the Divine Essence. He has entered into His rest. That is our home; here we are on a pilgrimage, and Christ calls us to His many mansions which He has prepared.” The Ascension is more of just a celebration of Jesus’ return to the Father. It’s a reminder that Heaven is our destiny too.

The third part of the Easter season is Pentecost where we celebrate the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles. Christ promises the Apostles, and by extension, us that He will be with us always and that He will send His Spirit to be with us. In his homily on Pentecost 2013, Pope Francis said, “The Pentecost of the upper room in Jerusalem is the beginning, a beginning which endures. The Holy Spirit is the supreme gift of the Risen Christ to His Apostles, yet He wants that gift to reach everyone.” The Holy Spirit gave the disciples the strength to go out to the edges of the earth to proclaim the Good News. We have been given this same gift. We have the ability and the challenge to go out and evangelize the Good News of Christ. The feast of Pentecost is a reminder to all of us that the Holy Spirit is alive and active in our worlds and in our hearts. Father Raniero Cantalamessa reminds us that “Pentecost is the moment when a heart of stone is shattered and a heart of flesh takes its place.”

During these 50 days I wish you joy of the Risen Lord, the hope of the Ascension and the strength of gifts of the Spirit. Have a blessed and happy Easter!

Anchor columnist Amanda Tarantelli has been a campus minister at Bishop Stang High School in North Dartmouth since 2005. She is married, a die-hard sports fan, and resides in Cranston, R.I. She can be reached at atarantelli@bishopstang.com.

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