“Whew! What a relief to have Lent over and the Easter Season ahead of us! The winter has been long and we need a little sunshine.” I can totally relate to this statement, but we have to be a little careful about how we apply it. Often, especially if we are fatigued, we can place ourselves on the path of least resistance. Grabbing onto Easter joy is frequently correlated with the idea that since we worked so hard in Lent, that our work is done. Actually the exact opposite is true.
In paragraph one of The Joy of the Gospel, Pope Francis states: “With Christ joy is constantly born anew… I wish to encourage the Christian faithful to embark upon a new chapter of evangelization marked by this joy, while pointing out new paths for the church’s journey in years to come.” In other words, we are to become those Joyful Missionary Disciples everybody is talking about.
This weekend, millions of folks across the globe who have gone through a long journey of formation have been fully initiated into the Church. They now begin a process called Mystagogia. This literally means “interpretation of mystery” and is the final period of formal initiation in which the meaning of the Sacraments is explained to those who have newly received them. These folks are then cut loose to fulfill their mission and unleash the Gospel. We all should engage in an “interpretation of mystery” we experienced at our baptism, grab onto their enthusiasm and reach out to every human being with our joy and gifts. Their mission is our mission as well.
This is energizing, not fatiguing. Why? Archbishop Vigneron states in his Unleash the Gospel letter (which is on our website) that it’s all about LOVE. He states in Guidepost 2 that “the task of evangelizing is to propose Jesus Christ as the Savior whom God the Father offers to every human being. The new evangelization is not a membership drive, nor is it an effort to shore up a code of conduct. Rather, it is a love affair. All are invited to encounter Jesus and let their hearts be captured by him.”
He goes on to say that there are no bystanders. In other words, Easter joy and the sacraments we have shared in call for personal involvement on the part of each of the baptized.
Certainly this is our time to give a big Congrats to all of the new fully initiated Catholics within our cluster and throughout the entire Archdiocese and the World (CONGRATS!); But, it is also our time to embrace the love of God in Christ Jesus that we have encountered and to go out and proclaim that love in our own unique and special way. Happy Easter!