Which is more important, Lent or Easter?
We hear a lot more about Lent than we do about Easter. We are all abuzz when Ash Wednesday hits: “What are you giving up?” Look at me! I’m wearing my ashes! Forty days of Lent. Lent is even out and about on TV and radio. But what about Easter?
Do we know that the Easter season is 50 days long (longer than Lent)? Do we know that These 50 days should be like one long Easter Sunday? If you went up to someone eating a fish sandwich on Friday in Lent, you would commiserate. How do you greet someone on the 5th Sunday of Easter? Why do we not observe Easter like we observe Lent?
Look at St. Thomas in today’s Gospel. “I will not believe,” he says. St. Thomas doubts. Why?
Something in our hearts resists Easter. Something in my own heart resists Easter. If Easter is true, if Christ truly rose from the dead then I have to live my life differently. Personally, I'm afraid of Easter. I'm afraid of the claim that Jesus, conquerer of sin and death, makes on my life. If I keep saying, "Happy Easter," then I have to change. Like St. Thomas I look for that absolute proof- not because I don’t believe but because if Jesus really did conquer death than He can conquer sin in my own heart. And I am ashamed to say, but I must say, I don't know what I'd do without my sin. I still cling to sin like as ridiculously as a 14 year old holding onto a babies blanket.
We spent 40 days of Lent thinking about our sins, our weakness and our need for salvation. Can we now spend 50 days thinking on our salvation? That is why, one week after Easter, we still sing “Jesus Christ is Risen today!”
We spent 40 days of Lent praying on and experiencing our sins, our weakness and our need for salvation. Can we now spend 50 days thinking on God’s answer? All of St. Thomas’ doubts are answered: “here are my hands and my feet, here is my side.” But what does Thomas have to do?
Thomas must dive in! I must dive in! We must dive in! Jesus has definitively answered all of our doubts, longings, and worries; now we must dive in. Jesus cannot make Thomas probe His hands or feet, He can only invite. Jesus cannot make us live the Sacraments, He can only invite.
The early Church answered that invitation. “They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of bread and to the prayers…Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple area and to breaking bread in their homes.” That early Church, those 12 apostles and bare hundreds of disciples converted their entire world. What can we do when we observe Easter, when we answer Jesus’ invitation?
Once again we must hear, I must hear the message of the Easter angel: "Do not be afraid!" This mercy, this forgiveness, this cure for our sins will not strip us of our identity. God's answer to sin and weakness will not harm us- but it will challenge us and it will change us.
Dive into the life of Christ, dive into the life of faith these 50 days of Easter! Jesus promises us peace, forgiveness of sins, and abundant life when we live united to Him. There is no other path than the Sacraments that Jesus has given us. Why do we wait? Dive in and be renewed!