The Radicalism of Easter and the Revolution of Love

Millennial co-founder Christopher Hale has a new article at Time. He writes:

To bring about this Easter revolution, Christians can’t begin with political parties and ideologies and coat them with Jesus messaging. Instead, we must start with Jesus: the tortured, crucified, murdered and then resurrected Lord who disrupts all earthly kingdoms and all political agendas.

Easter is about a call to rise up and proclaim a community that will outlive all kingdoms: a community where the poor are blessed, enemies are loved, strangers are welcomed, prisoners are set free, and where death is no more.

Fr. James Martin writes:

If you don’t believe in the Resurrection, you can go on living your life while perhaps admiring Jesus the man, appreciating his example and even putting into practice some of his teachings. At the same time, you can set aside those teachings that you disagree with or that make you uncomfortable—say, forgiving your enemies, praying for your persecutors, living simply or helping the poor. You can set them aside because he’s just another teacher. A great one, to be sure, but just one of many.

If you believe that Jesus rose from the dead, however, everything changes. In that case, you cannot set aside any of his teachings. Because a person who rises from the grave, who demonstrates his power over death and who has definitively proven his divine authority needs to be listened to. What that person says demands a response….

What difference does Easter make in the life of the Christian? The message of Easter is, all at once, easy to understand, radical, subversive and life-changing. Easter means that nothing is impossible with God. Moreover, that life triumphs over death. Love triumphs over hatred. Hope triumphs over despair. And that suffering is not the last word.

Finally, Pope Francis shared his Easter message earlier today, saying:

Before the spiritual and moral abysses of mankind, before the chasms that open up in hearts and provoke hatred and death, only an infinite mercy can bring us salvation.  Only God can fill those chasms with his love, prevent us from falling into them and help us to continue our journey together towards the land of freedom and life.

The glorious Easter message, that Jesus, who was crucified is not here but risen (cf. Mt 28:5-6), offers us the comforting assurance that the abyss of death has been bridged and, with it, all mourning, lamentation and pain (cf. Rev 21:4).  The Lord, who suffered abandonment by his disciples, the burden of an unjust condemnation and shame of an ignominious death, now makes us sharers of his immortal life and enables us to see with his eyes of love and compassion those who hunger and thirst, strangers and prisoners, the marginalized and the outcast, the victims of oppression and violence….

To those in our society who have lost all hope and joy in life, to the elderly who struggle alone and feel their strength waning, to young people who seem to have no future, to all I once more address the words of the Risen One: “See, I am making all things new… To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life” (Rev 21:5-6).  May this comforting message of Jesus help each of us to set out anew with greater courage to blaze trails of reconciliation with God and with all our brothers and sisters.

What Are You Doing For Easter?

“What are you doing for Lent?”

A few years ago, when I was a parish youth minister, I asked the students to think about ways they could truly live the season. There was a lot of discussion about giving things up: technology, certain foods, picking on a younger brother or sister. Some mentioned collecting money for Catholic Relief Services’ Rice Bowl, and others expressed a hope to pray or attend Mass more. I was impressed by the level of commitment from many of those who responded. Giving up Facebook or video games is not a small challenge for our tech-centered generation. But there they were, getting into the spirit of the season in an intentional way, thinking about ways to incorporate the Lenten practices of fasting, prayer and almsgiving into their lives.

These students mirrored the wider church: We do Lent really well. Parish offerings are plentiful, Ash Wednesday and Palm Sunday pack churches, people give things up and stick to it. The season and its multitude of tangible reminders – those ashes and palms; no meat on Friday; no “alleluia”; purple everywhere – make it hard to forget it’s a special time of year.

On Holy Thursday and Good Friday that year, I saw some students at the parish.

“What are you doing for Easter?” I asked.

I wanted to know where they were going or what they were doing on Sunday, and that’s what they told me. Visiting with family, eating a big meal, doing homework.

A few days later, I caught myself comparing those two respective questions about Lent and Easter. “What are you doing for Lent?” is a probing spiritual question. It requires a 40-day answer, and implies action and discipline.

“What are you doing for Easter?” is a polite piece of small talk. It has to do with one day’s plans. We celebrate well, and then it’s “almost summer” time and things begin to wind down.

It’s easy to forget that Easter is a 50-day season, 10 days longer than the Lenten marathon. It’s the most important season we have; we’re an Easter people, after all, not a Lenten people.

What would it look like if we committed ourselves to the Easter season with the same energy we bring to Lent?

Inspired by our triad of Lenten practices, here are three Easter practices you might try from now through Pentecost.

1) Feasting

Lent is a time of fasting, but we do not fast for its own sake. We fast so that we might be ready to welcome and celebrate the risen Christ at Easter and throughout the season in a special way. We fast so we can feast! So, take some time to intentionally feast this Easter. Call a friend you haven’t spoken with for a while. Have a picnic. Fly a kite. Play hopscotch. Do something new and creative that celebrates life and brings joy to the world.

2) Singing

Many of my favorite moments involve singing: A pop music jam session with my siblings and my wife. Shouting along with Bruce Springsteen on “Born to Run” with the car windows down. That first “alleluia” at the Easter Vigil. One of my favorite theologians Walter Brueggemann points to Isaiah 42:10 as a key moment in Scripture: “Sing to the Lord a new song.” After the quiet grief of Lent and Good Friday, the victory of life over death energizes us to be able to sing again. So sing out especially loudly at Mass, and find other times to sing.

3) Bringing Easter Joy to Others

The Road to Emmaus is one of the great Easter stories. Soon after the resurrection, an unrecognized Jesus walks along the road with a pair of his disciples, chatting with them and breaking open the Scriptures. The conversation is going so well the disciples invite Jesus to have dinner with them. When he blesses and breaks the bread at during the meal, the disciples realize who is with them, and he instantly vanishes.

Blown away by this encounter with the risen Christ, the disciples race back to Jerusalem on foot, which was seven miles from Emmaus, to let the apostles know – minutes after they had just completed their first hike of the day. Fourteen miles in one day is pretty impressive, by any century’s standards.

What a force for good and love it would be if we could somehow channel that same Easter excitement. There are so many places in the world where the joy of the risen Lord is obscured by persistent darkness and so many people who could use a loving gesture that brings new life. Spend some time in Easter as an instrument of God’s compassion in one of these places of suffering.

There are about 50 days left until Pentecost – that’s plenty of time to get moving.

So, what are you doing for Easter this year?

This post originally appeared on the Center for FaithJustice blog and is also featured on the website The Ampersand for the Diocese of Camden Life & Justice Ministries.

Christopher Hale in Time (Again!): The Radical Easter Proclamation

Millennial co-founder and contributing editor Christopher Hale has a new article in Time, reflecting on Easter. He writes:

This Easter story isn’t simply for us, but also for the transformation of our families, our communities, our Church, our country and the entire world. The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead gives us a chance to reimagine and reconstruct human life and society once again.

It allows us to become collaborators in God’s great dreams for a world where everyone is welcomed, loved and forgiven and where every man, woman and child experiences the salvation that Christ won for us in his death and resurrection.

The full article can be read here.