Season of Joy
Today's Season of Joy reflection comes from Dr. Allen Hunt.
Allen serves as Senior Advisor and partners with Matthew Kelly to lead the Dynamic Catholic Institute. A best-selling author, Allen is married to Anita. They have two grown daughters, two sons-in-law, and seven grandchildren.
We Are Easter People
When Simon Peter arrived after him,
he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there,
and the cloth that had covered his head,
not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place.
Then the other disciple also went in,
the one who had arrived at the tomb first,
and he saw and believed.
For they did not yet understand the Scripture
that he had to rise from the dead.
Easter is the main event. If you don't believe in the resurrection, then you're not a believer. A character in a novel says those words, and he's right. We are the people of the Resurrection. We are the people of the empty tomb.
In fact, Jesus wasn't much into funerals, caskets, and tombstones at all. Jesus did resurrections, not burials. So much so, that Easter defines who we are. We believe that Jesus actually, literally, physically, rose from the dead. He transformed death into life. Better yet, we believe he will do that for us too, and that conviction changes everything. It changes the way we live every day because we really are Easter people.
Pope Francis said the resurrection offers us the greatest hope because it opens our lives, and the life of the world, to God's eternal future; to complete happiness; to the certainty that evil, sin, and death can be conquered. This leads us to living our everyday lives more confidently; to facing each day, courageously, and with commitment. In other words, we are Easter people. We know that life conquers death; grace conquers sin; courage conquers cowardice; and faith conquers fear.
So let me ask you, do your beliefs in the resurrection affect the way you live your life? Is there an area of your life that needs resurrection or needs new life from Jesus? A relationship that needs fear to be erased and boldness to be infused? Or maybe an addiction that has destroyed a part of you or your life? Perhaps greed and materialism has snuck in and robbed you of your joy? Do you know your neighbors or have you shut them out? Or maybe something else?
Spend five minutes each day for three days—five minutes each day for three days—in prayer for that one, fearful area of your life. Enter the classroom of silence. Listen for how God speaks to you and how he desires to turn what appears to be dead into the living. Invite him to fill you with the courage and commitment Pope Francis points us toward.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a Lutheran pastor and he was a part of a group of Christians who stood up to Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany. Bonhoeffer really helped create a resistance by organizing an underground church that refused to obey the Führer Hitler, and Bonhoeffer became well known for his deep convictions and courage in the face of the greatest suffering and persecution imaginable.
Eventually Bonhoeffer's leadership decisions attracted Hitler's attention and they landed Dietrich Bonhoeffer in prison. He was transferred a few times, and finally he arrived at the awful concentration camp known as Flossenbürg. But even there, Dietrich Bonhoeffer continued to inspire the men all around him. He led prayer, he taught from scripture, and he stood tall and bold against the moral evil of Hitler.
But on a Sunday morning, in April 1945, just as worship was ending Dietrich Bonhoeffer was praying. The guards walked in and they shouted, "Bonhoeffer, come with us." The other Christians there gasped and got ashen looks on their faces because they knew what was about to happen. They were about to lose their leader. They knew Bonhoeffer was being led outside to be hanged.
Death saturated the room, but Dietrich Bonhoeffer stood. He stood to follow the guards out to his death. And as he stepped out of the space with the other Christians, he spoke to his fellow prisoners, and he fearlessly said, "This isn't the end, for me, it's just the beginning."
"This isn't the end, for me, it's just the beginning."
Easter is the main event. We are the people of the empty tomb. We are a people of hope. Death is not the end, for us, it's the beginning.
Why? Because we are Easter people.
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