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Toward the new joy of Easter

By  Fr. Yaw Acheampong
  • April 14, 2022

“This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

-- Psalm 118:24

On Ash Wednesday, March 1 this year, we began a new journey of faith — our Lenten journey. Our 40-day Lenten journey of penance and austerity brings us to the celebration of Easter: a time of joy, light and life.

This year’s Easter celebration will be different from the past two. Since Ash Wednesday, some pandemic restrictions, including seating capacity in our churches, have been removed. Over the past two years, our church activities have been dictated by the pandemic, with its lockdowns and restrictions. However, despite the adverse effects of the pandemic on our lives, the pandemic might also have created a period of reflection similar to that of Lent.

Throughout the pandemic, we have reflected on how we are to live in this challenging time and we have learned how to do things differently. We have become aware of what we consider to be important to us in our lives. The changes we have made have helped us support and care for each other. Every Lent, we reflect on our lives: these past two years have deepened our Lenten reflection this year.

As we are coming out of the pandemic, we can describe this year’s Easter as unique in many ways. This year we can express fully our joy at the celebration in our churches — this is something that we have not been able to do for the past two years.

Our journey to this year’s Easter has been filled with events in the Church and in the world. The leaders of the Church in Canada and Indigenous leaders have been on a journey preparing to meet with Pope Francis in the Vatican. This journey was to seek reconciliation, peace and healing from the issue of the residential schools tragedy in Canada. On, April 1, the Pope met with  Indigenous people and offered an apology on behalf of the Church.

The Holy Father’s action begins the movement towards reconciliation for the Church and the Indigenous peoples of Canada and a new beginning of peace and healing. While we are concerned with the process of reconciliation with our Indigenous peoples, we are also moving out of the restrictions that the pandemic required.

Because of the strain of the pandemic, we have heard about how the pandemic and its restrictions caused division and rift in families, our parish communities and in our homes. We can use the Easter celebration to encourage us to heal our personal rifts and divisions and to bring about peace, healing and a new beginning in our homes and communities.

So, what is the spiritual significance of Easter in our own lives? The celebration of the resurrection of Jesus from death speaks to us of the triumph of life over death.  This year we celebrate Easter in the midst of wars with the increasing number of refugees and the lack of respect for human dignity. How do we celebrate Easter in the midst of human tragedy? Our answer to this question reflects our understanding of the meaning of Easter.

As baptized people we not only celebrate the glorious event of Easter, we live that event in our lives. In his encyclical letter Fratelli Tutti, Pope Francis writes, “Love, then, is more than just a series of benevolent actions. Those actions have their source in a union increasingly directed towards others considering them of value, worthy, pleasing and beautiful apart from their physical or moral appearances. Our love for others, for who they are moves us to see the best of their lives.”

On the day of the Resurrection the Gospel of John’s story of Mary Magdalene, Peter and John inspires us all. Their joy and enthusiasm of being sent by the Risen Lord to spread the good news of the Resurrection encourages us to share the good news.

The Easter event is not a one-time event. It is a journey that continues after our great celebration of Easter Sunday. As we joyfully sing the Easter Alleluia, let our celebration inspire us to live so that our lives may shine with light and love this Easter.

(Fr. Yaw Acheampong is pastor of Our Lady of Peace Parish in Toronto.)

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