The greeting of Easter people is ‘Peace’By: Bishop Edward M. Rice
As we approach the celebration of Holy Week and Easter, I am mindful of the life springing forth around us. The trees, the emerging flowers, and the beauty of the Ozark mountains—it all proclaims “new life.” Of course, our new life is found in Jesus, who has conquered the power of sin and death. The 40 days of Lent are overwhelmed by the new life we celebrate during the 50 days of the Easter Season. Time and time again, in the Gospels of Easter, we see Jesus walking into the midst of
fear and offering peace.
Peace be with you
“Peace be with you,” is the greeting of Our Risen Lord on that first Easter evening to His disciples. Huddled together in fear of their own possible deaths, the disciples are locked away in the Upper Room. In the midst of their isolation and darkness, Our Lord comes to them with the Easter message, “Peace be with you.” With that message of peace, Our Lord offers reconciliation to the very disciples who abandoned Him or denied Him in His time of need. At the foot of the Cross, we find His mother, Mary, with some of the women and St. John the Beloved. Yet, the very ones who shared life with Him during the three-year span of ministry were nowhere to be found. How remarkable that Our Lord would choose to say to them in their own fear, “Peace be with you.” Is that not the heart of reconciliation?
So often we are encouraged to celebrate the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation during the seasons of Advent or Lent in order that we fully prepare for Christmas and Easter. But it seems to me the 50 days of the Easter Season is an even more appropriate time for reconciliation. The Feast of Divine Mercy, celebrating the gift of mercy on the Second Sunday of Easter, continues the theme of reconciliation. The 50 days of Easter culminate with the Feast of Pentecost. With the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the Church becomes the instrument of reconciliation. It may be good to reflect on the Prayer of Absolution, which highlights the role of the Holy Spirit:
God the Father of mercy, through the death and resurrection of His Son, has reconciled the world to Himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the remission of sins; through the ministry of the Church, may God grant you pardon and peace and I absolve you of your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The Church overwhelms us with the joy and richness of the 50 days of the Easter Season after our 40 days of Lenten prayer, fasting, and charity. Let us celebrate the glory of the risen Christ. Let us receive the “peace” that the risen Savior desires to bestow upon us and our communities. Let us embrace our new lives as Easter people, with “Alleluia” as our song.
In the words of the Orthodox Easter greeting: “Khristos anesti! Alithos anesti!”
“Christ is risen! Truly, He is risen.” What a beautiful greeting for the 50 days of Easter. ©TM