I have always loved Easter. When I was young, I remember going with my grandfather to the “Easter Sunrise” service at the church I grew up in. It took place outside near where the graveyard was, a short walk behind the church. Next to a cheerful grandpa, I loved walking there through the fresh-smelling spring woods behind the church as the brightening sky colorfully lit our way. After the cold of winter, there was a new warmth and life in the air. Yellow daffodils and purple crocuses pushing up through the dead leaves lined the path as budding trees promised coming shelter from the broiling summer sun. Everything felt full of new life and light, safe, and right - a foretaste of Heaven.
However, what I have come to appreciate more about Easter is not the experience of Spring’s new life at sunrise, but rather what happens at night. The Easter Vigil must start after dark - it is completely forbidden to begin it before twilight. The reason for this is because the Resurrection of Jesus Christ did not happen at sunrise, but rather before that, in the dark of night. “ at daybreak on the first day of the week they took the spices they had prepared and went to tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb” (Luke 24:1-2). By the time that the sun came up, Jesus had already risen and the stone was rolled away! Spring is a time of natural coming to life after the death of winter. However, our faith is about supernatural life, which is the work of God in us by the power of the Sacraments. This supernatural life is not about how we feel, but the reality of God living in us regardless of the ups and downs of life. Natural life is thwarted by darkness and death - winter will come again. The supernatural life God gives is infinitely more powerful, bringing about new, abundant life in the midst of the darkness and death - it is eternal.
This supernatural life is often hidden to us if we are looking for natural life. The natural desires that we adopt from the world for comfort, success, health, and possessions cause us to be sad or angry when hardship, failure, sickness and loss thwart these desires. That sadness and anger often prevents us from experiencing the supernatural joy that comes from trusting in God and offering those things to Him in thanksgiving. The New Life of the Spirit comes about in the dark! It is unconquerable by the hardships of this life - only our own choice to sin can take it away from us.
I love Easter. I’ve always loved it because it is the promise of the supernatural life that will come in heaven. But I am even more thankful that it promises us that God is giving me new life right now in the midst of the darkness and hardship of this moment - I need only trust Him and receive the Sacraments frequently and devoutly.
I pray this supernatural Easter joy always be yours!