One Easter Sunday Mass, as I went through the church and sprinkled the people with Holy Water, was struck by how many long, gloomy, and sad faces I saw. After I was done I said, “I just want to remind you that it’s Easter Sunday- so it’s okay to smile in church!”
There were long faces on Easter in today’s gospel as well. When the risen Jesus joined two disciples on their journey and asked what they were talking about, “They stopped, looking downcast.” Or as another translation puts it, “They stood still, looking sad.” Just like so many of the people I saw at Easter Mass.
But let’s not forget the rest of the gospel story. After they recognized Jesus in the breaking of the bread, the two disciples were so filled with joy that they ran to tell their friends. The risen Jesus had replaced their sadness with joy!
The good news that Jesus has risen should also fill us with joy this Easter season. As St. Augustine once wrote, “A Christian should be an ‘alleluia’ from head to foot!” Do you remember the Opening Prayer at this Mass? We thanked God for the joy of the resurrection, and asked that the joy of our celebration may bring us to the joy of eternal life. And as we prayed together in the responsorial psalm, “Rejoice, O hearts that seek the Lord.”
Easter joy doesn’t mean that we ignore life’s real difficulties and problems. But it does mean that we confront them with the assurance that if we have a God who loves us so much that he died and rose for us, then surely he will lead us through our present troubles into his everlasting peace. Mother Teresa once put it very well. “Never let anything cause you so much sorrow,” she said, “that you forget the joy of Jesus risen.”
Readings for today’s Mass: http://www.usccb.org/nab/042711.shtml