It’s Friday. A day that throughout most of the year is focused on penance and remembrance of the cross of Christ. But Easter Friday is Easter so we rejoice in the resurrection of Christ, one expression of which is that we can eat meat! (See Canon 1251) The seasons of fasting in the Church help us to focus intently on penance. Now Easter is here, and not only is it unnecessary to fast, but it is down right inappropriate. This is the situation of the Israelites after they rediscover the books of the Law upon returning from exile.
And Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, ‘This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn or weep.’ For all the people wept when they heard the words of the law. Then he said to them, ‘Go your way, eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions of them to those for whom nothing is prepared, for this day is holy to our Lord; and do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength. (Nehemiah 8:9-10)
It can be so easy for us to focus on the pains and penances of this life but forget about the joys and the blessings. Easter reminds us that the cross leads to the resurrection, and that we embrace the cross for the sake of the joy which lies before us. In some way, we are all as guilty of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ as the Israelites were of abandoning the Law. Yet we should remember that Jesus did not come into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him (John 3:17). It can be hard to transition from the fasting of Lent to the feasting of Easter, but Easter is a time to marvel at the magnanimity of God and to accept with gratitude the unmerited gift He gives to us. This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it! (Psalm 118:24) The Almighty God, our Father in heaven, has heard our prayer and answered us by sending His only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ has died and defeated death. Alleluia, Christ is risen! Let us rejoice, Alleluia!
Image: Jan van Eyck, Adoration of the Lamb