Easter has arrived! We made the long way through Lent; some of us journeyed through the liturgical marathon that is Holy Week, with its multiple services leading up to the Great Easter Vigil.
Now we dwell in the weeks prior to Pentecost. Yes, we keep looking forward to the next event in the Christian year. Jesus has risen from the dead; in the coming weeks, as we hear in the Gospel stories, he will appear to many people. Those who believe in him will understand that he has conquered death. Jesus will tell them that he’s leaving again but will send the Advocate, the Holy Spirit. So those who love and follow him live in tension still; of course, they want him to stay, forever. What will happen when the Holy Spirit comes? They do not yet know the day it will happen. All they can do is stay together and pray and hope that Jesus’ leaving will not be soon.
Even after the great Resurrection has occurred, we continue to live in paradox and tension. We believe Jesus rose from the dead and that we, too, will one day be resurrected. In the meantime, though . . . in the meantime, life continues and people suffer, and the answers we want don’t come, and Jesus the Man-God is nowhere to be seen.
In the meantime, much of the world around us acts as if there is no Resurrection at all. Those of us who follow Jesus have to stick together. We need to pray and worship together, remind one another of this strange reality we call the Christian life. It makes sense only if we take Jesus at his word—if we believe that his life merges with ours and that we are forever changed.
And in the absence of Jesus who walked this earth centuries ago, what do we do?
We allow him to live through our bodies and voices, our thoughts and dreams, our arms and faces. We are the Body of Christ. This is not merely a nice metaphor; it speaks a reality by which we live as Easter people. Jesus now is with us, within us. He is also outside us, in others—we meet him especially in those who need our love, those we can feed, clothe, visit, heal, forgive, and love.
Easter is not magical. It is transcendent. Jesus is not somewhere else. Christ is everywhere—through him all creation holds together. He lives and breathes through his body, the Church.
So what does it mean to live as Easter people? It means we live as a people, all parts of Christ’s Body working together toward a single purpose: love.