We all know the story. A man named Jesus of Nazareth, after His earthly pilgrimage was to come to an end, he was condemned to death by Pontius Pilate, suffered immensely, and crucified on Calvary on Good Friday. But we also know that is not the end of the story. He rose on the third day: Easter Sunday. The climax of our Christian faith lies in the living reality of Easter Sunday: the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is this reality that makes us a Christian people.
Pope Saint John Paul II summarized the epitome of what it means to be a Christian: “Do not abandon yourself to despair. We are Easter people and Hallelujah is our song.” There are two immediate takeaways from this quote. The first is that we are not a hopeless people. Jesus Christ proclaimed that “I came into the world as light, so that everyone who believes in me might not remain in darkness” (John 12:46). Secondly, our identity as Christians lies in the reality of the Resurrection. The Resurrection is why we sing “Hallelujah,” and it is the reality that will happen to us at the Second Coming of Christ.
A deeper truth lies in our identity as an Easter people. As human beings, there is a stark truth that we will pass away at some point. There is nothing we can do to evade this reality. It is important to remind the sick and dying that they are an Easter people, and that hope lies in the Resurrection. Moreover, the cross transformed all our suffering and pain and the Resurrection secured our eternal life. Yet, this promise of eternal life is not just for the dying; it is for us all.
The paschal mystery (the suffering, death, and Resurrection of Jesus) is something we are called to live out every day of our lives. This Easter faith is exactly what the first followers of Jesus lived out in the days following his resurrection. There were “no needy among them [the Apostles’]” (Acts 4:34) and their change to bring the message of Jesus to the people was the work of Christ himself (Acts 9:27). Moreover, the Ascension called all of us to be witnesses to the faith, not mere observers (Acts 1:11). To the first Christians, Easter was a way of life.
The call to be a witness to Christ is also why the Easter season lasts fifty days, until Pentecost. But it is more than Easter Sunday or the Easter Season. The call is universal and at all times. On Easter, Christ destroyed the power of death, gave us hope in restoring our relationship with God, and gave us the gift of eternal joy, fulfillment, and life. Christ gave us the opportunity to be in union with the source of all being, our origin, and our destiny and joy: God Himself. Easter Sunday afforded us the to be with the source of all joy and love.
We are an Easter people signifies the call to live out the Resurrection every day of our lives. To open wide the doors to Christ’s unifying love. To turn upward in faith, hope, and love. To rejoice in the Risen Lord. Easter Sunday is precisely why we call the crucifixion of Jesus “Good Friday.” An event so terrible turned into a call to rejoice in the Risen Christ, who gives us our identity as a redeemed people. That Easter faith that we are called to live every day was instituted in the rising of Jesus. Hallelujah.