Lent Propels Us to Easter

hope spelled out in red letters on sign - image by Rebecca Matthews from Pixabay

Easter is still a few weeks away. We find ourselves muddling through the doldrums of Lent. But I want to make a bold claim: Now is the time to begin our Easter story.

I have a Jesuit friend who once said to me in college, “Eric, why don’t you tell an Easter story?” I had no idea what he meant. All I knew was that I had a project due in my creative class in a matter of days.

“You mean I need to kill off a character and bring him back to life?” I asked.

“An Easter story, Eric, does not require literal resurrection,” I remember my friend saying. “It just needs hope.”

I return to this conversation in my imagination with some frequency. There are plenty of narrative threads to pull on from our Easter stories, but hope feels like a good one. A big one. An essential one.

Easter hope doesn’t make any sense at the end of the story. That’s not where it belongs. Rather, hope is what propels the story forward; it’s what gets us to Easter.

We hope for the Risen Lord; we hope that God will win over death. And then when Christ breaks down the doors of that tomb, we continue to hope—but not because we’re still hoping God is going to win. That answer has already been given. Rather, we hope that we, now, in our own lives can manifest the love and compassion of our Risen God.

In Evangelii Gaudium, writing on joy and the Gospel, Pope Francis says:

There are Christians whose lives seem like Lent without Easter. I realize of course that joy is not expressed the same way at all times in life, especially at moments of great difficulty. Joy adapts and changes, but it always endures, even as a flicker of light born of our personal certainty that, when everything is said and done, we are infinitely loved. (6)

Joy always endures. But why? I wonder. Why be joyful in the face of suffering and when the world is battered by war, conflict, and loneliness? Suffering seems all-encompassing, creating a perpetual, global “Lent without Easter.”

Here’s the secret: We aren’t meant to dwell in Lent; Lent propels us to Easter. And our joy is only possible because we hope in what we cannot see. We hope for a world that is just, peaceful, and compassionate, even when we live in one stained by fear, hate, and violence. We hope in the Resurrection even when all we see is death.

Keep moving this Lent. And as you do, assess the details of your life, of your story, and of God’s people and all of creation. We live in moments of great difficulty. But we know God won the day, and we hope to be harbingers of God’s Easter joy.

Our experience of Lent should point us to Easter. Our Lenten journey should remind us why we hope and why the Easter story—our Easter story—is essential. Because despite all the sadness we see, the challenge and sorrow and suffering, God is still here. God is still at work. God is still laboring in and through us—and when we hope for that world God desires, we take a step closer toward its fulfillment.

Hope is not a static thing; it drives the action of the plot. It drives our Easter story. And if we’re going to play our part in the story of Resurrection, then bringing about that which we hope for—a better world, renewed relationships, the care of creation—demands our greatest effort.

Lent is the time to see clearly what the world needs so that the story of Easter can be our response.

Image by Rebecca Matthews from Pixabay.


  1. Thank you, Eric, for your beautiful reflection on Hope and Easter Joy!
    God IS still at work, through all of us…through all of His beloved children.
    Amen and God Bless us all.


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