Alleluia! Christ is risen!
As we continue to journey through the Easter season, it is not only a time of joyful celebration for us, but we also get a chance to look back and reflect on our Lenten season and how we might be experiencing the fruits of it now, if at all. Are we only celebrating the intellectual knowledge that Christ has risen and gained our salvation? Or can we be truly joyful knowing that we have been raised up with Christ and have died to our old lives? Now, this is obviously a lifelong journey and we can’t accomplish it perfectly in 40 days, but we can still look back and examine whether we really used Lent as an opportunity to grow in our spiritual life and to get closer to shedding our old way of life so that we can truly be raised up with Christ. As this is a journey and not just a seasonal endeavor, we also can’t slack off just because Lent is over. We must continue persevering and striving to celebrate the true Easter joy every day of our lives so that we can enjoy it forever in heaven.
In the 1st letter of St. Peter, the apostle tells us that by the resurrection of Jesus Christ we are now saved. He says that just as eight souls were saved by water in the time of Noah during the Flood, so now Baptism saves us also by the power of the resurrection. However, he also points out that this is not just a “putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the examination of a good conscience toward God” (1 Peter 3:20-22). In other words, we don’t just put away our faults and misdeeds as if on a shelf so they could possibly be taken down and put into practice again, but we truly examine our consciences and point them toward God, vowing to do away with our sins and failings for good. And the Easter season celebrates that we have been given a chance to do that and gain salvation by Christ Who opened the gates of heaven for us. We rejoice in this triumph of our Savior which He has also willed to become our triumph if we persevere and continue on the way to putting our old lives to death and putting on the new life in Christ that He offers us.
It’s tempting to only see Lent as the time for putting away our old ways of doing things and then going back to the way things were before once Easter Sunday comes as a way of “celebrating.” But this is the easy way out and a very shallow way of viewing these seasons. Lent is a time of preparation and shedding of our old ways so that at Easter we can rejoice in our new life with Christ, resurrecting with Him. As such, we are invited to go deeper and really walk with Christ both in the days leading up to His Passion and Death and after His Resurrection. We are called to take on His mind and His zeal for the will of the Father. But because we are human, and the process of reformation and resurrection won’t truly be completed until after our death, then we must continue to evolve and work toward this shedding of our old selves every day of our lives. Once we begin to change our perception and practice of the Lenten and Easter seasons, we can begin to experience this joy that Christ wishes for us to experience, growing closer to Him step by step by the renunciation of our worldly selves and the putting on of Christ Himself, as St. Paul says in his letter to the Romans (13:14).
As we continue to celebrate the risen Christ, may we also continue to work on the reformation of our lives and continual examination of our consciences, so that we may be able to shout in earnest “Alleluia, Christ is risen!” and ultimately say with St. Paul, “It is no longer I, but Christ Who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20).