Easter and the mystery of salvation is probably one of the hardest things to talk to long-time Christians about, because we aren’t shocked by it anymore. We’ve heard the story more times than we can count, and it no longer amazes us. God became man, suffered, died, and rose from the dead to free us from the chains of sin and death. Cool. The words skim over our hearts in the briefest of instances and then float off into the void as if they were never spoken in the first place.
But hold on for one second. Stop. Listen to those words again.
God became man.
He suffered – for you.
He died – for you.
He rose from the dead.
All to free you from sin and death.
Now let it sink in.
Are you amazed yet?
It’s okay if your answer is “No.” If I’m being honest, my answer is probably “No” most of the time, too. It takes time to chip away at the layers of stony cynicism that have built up around our hearts over the years. It takes time to remove the scales from our eyes and to see the truth – this glorious, scandalous truth – and truly understand its weight.
But today I want to encourage you to begin to chip away at those layers, begin to remove those scales, because the truth of the Easter story is simply too beautiful for us to be content to remain unchanged by it for even a minute longer.
The One who created you and me, our uncreated Creator, willingly bore each and every one of our sufferings and tasted the bitterness of death so we might live. Death literally has no hold on us. We are free to live in the light of God’s love. What better news is there?
Sometimes, though, we can’t see the glory of the Resurrection that is present before our very eyes. We are Mary Magdalene weeping at the tomb on that first Easter morning, wondering where our Lord has gone, unaware that He is standing right next to us. When the future looks bleaker than bleak, when it seems like God has forgotten His promise, when it feels like your heart is being ripped from your chest and the only coherent sentence your lips can form is, “What is the point?” … He is standing right beside you. He has not forgotten His promise to you. He is alive, and He is calling your name.
But how will you respond to His call?
Will you accept His invitation to walk in the freedom He has won for you, or will you allow yourself to be held back by fear? And if you are afraid, what is it that you are afraid of? That Christ isn’t who He says He is? That He won’t take care of you? That His promises are too good to be true?
One of my favorite quotes in the history of words is from Pope Benedict XVI’s homily during his inaugural Mass as pope (it’s a long one, so buckle up):
Are we not perhaps all afraid in some way? If we let Christ enter fully into our lives, if we open ourselves totally to him, are we not afraid that he might take something away from us? Are we not perhaps afraid to give up something significant, something unique, something that makes life so beautiful? Do we not then risk ending up diminished and deprived of our freedom? And once again the Pope [John Paul II] said: No! If we let Christ into our lives, we lose nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing of what makes life free, beautiful and great. No! Only in this friendship are the doors of life opened wide. Only in this friendship is the great potential of human existence truly revealed. Only in this friendship do we experience beauty and liberation. And so, today, with great strength and great conviction, on the basis of long personal experience of life, I say to you, dear young people: Do not be afraid of Christ! He takes nothing away, and he gives you everything. When we give ourselves to him, we receive a hundredfold in return. Yes, open, open wide the doors to Christ – and you will find true life.
Today, Easter Sunday, is an opportunity to remember and rejoice in just how much the Lord loves us. In His love, there is fullness of freedom and life; there is no good gift that He doesn’t want to give us. And if we choose to believe this truth, our lives can never be the same.
So if there is something that is holding you back from being truly, fully alive, ask the Lord to show you what it is and place it in His hands; allow Him to transform your heart. It will probably hurt – after all, everything must die in order to be resurrected – but you will gain more than you could ever imagine. And He will be with you the entire way.
Our risen Lord is calling you to share in His abundant life today.