Some years ago, I gave up watching television for Lent. It was hard at first. However, if you subscribe to my father’s rules of Lenten observance, every Sunday you are freed from the penitential sacrifice and can indulge. I looked forward to Sunday, when I could watch TV and gleefully surf with my remote. After Easter, I was glad to be back on the couch every evening catching up with “NCIS,” “Heroes,” the Orioles, and whatever else caught my attention.
Another year, I gave up the Internet game “Farmville.” It was a virtual farm that I kept and grew crops and orchards, and which I shared with “friends” on Facebook. Same story: Sunday rolled around, and I was frantically harvesting and planting for the next week. Easter came, and I donned my virtual overalls and went right back to work.
It was as if Lent and Easter never happened.
Does that ring true with you too? Are you looking forward to a long-awaited beer or potato chip or chocolate bunny ear? There is nothing wrong with these things, but if that’s all that the end of Lent means, then we have missed the point.
Today, we rejoice together as we commemorate again the Resurrection of Jesus – the Lord’s victory over sin and death, and our sharing in that victory through our Baptism. This is the feast that seals our discipleship. It is this day that we hear St. Paul encourage us: Think of what is above, not of what is on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. After receiving this miraculous gift of New Life, there is no way that we can return to a former way of life. Everything changes; everything is renewed.
This change can be a scary thing – everything that is new is like that. However, in the midst of this Easter transformation, as He did on that first Easter, Jesus meets us and comforts us: "Do not be afraid. Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me." Our lives as disciples have to look different, sound different, be different. After all, we are redeemed.
And, for us, the road to redemption is not as important as the road after it.
The road to redemption is the road to the Cross, and to the tomb. It is marked by our weakness, our need, our failures, our complete reliance on God. The road after redemption is the road walked by Jesus after the Resurrection. It is that road that He shares with us; it is that road that He sets us upon and calls us to walk now. This road is marked by witness, by courage, by charity toward all; it is marked by discipleship.
Now that we have journeyed together through the holy season of Lent, now that we have encountered Jesus in the Paschal Mystery, now that we have seen Him rise from the dead, we must recognize that the New Life that Jesus lives is the same New Life that He has offered to us through our Baptism. We are disciples now. This is no time to fall back into old ways; this is no time for fear.
This road after redemption means loving others selflessly, as Jesus does. It means living differently in a world that seeks to keep such witness quiet. It means turning toward others and inviting them to walk that road along with us. This is what the Christian life is all about. Today we hear from the “Acts” of the Apostles – not the “memories” of the Apostles. We too are called to be active, missionary disciples, who know Jesus intimately, and who are sent to Galilee and beyond to encounter Him and to help others to encounter Him too.
While we now find ourselves at the end of our Lenten observance, we have not completed a journey. In fact, that journey has only just begun. From the tomb to Galilee, to this place here – we are called to set out and share the Good News of New Life with all we meet.