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After Lent and Easter, what next? Jesus’ to-do list

Pope Francis presides over the Easter Mass as part of the Holy Week celebrations

Antoine Mekary | ALETEIA

Tom Hoopes - published on 04/01/24

Jesus uses the events of Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday to inspire a yearlong way of life.

“Whew! Lent is over. Now we can go back to our regular lives, right?”

That’s what I tend to think on the day after Easter Sunday. But this year especially I’ve been able to see just how short-sighted that attitude is.

This year on Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter, I was struck at how Jesus uses these events to inspire a yearlong way of life.

First, the crucifix and empty tomb say: “No longer be unbelieving, but believe.”

The two stark images of Easter are the cross where Jesus died abandoned by nearly all of his followers because they didn’t believe, and the empty tomb that stands as an invitation to investigate what happened.

In Mark and Matthew, an angel invites the women to “Come, see the place where he lay.” John’s Gospel shows why: Seeing the burial cloths there was enough to convince them Jesus rose from the dead, because a grave robber would never remove the wrappings pasted on a body with myrrh and then neatly arrange them.

Jesus invites Thomas to investigate the Resurrection in a different way: by probing not the tomb, but his wounds. 

The message is clear: Our faith rests on a historical claim. So we should investigate that claim. I have amassed many books on the resurrection, but the most accessible may be “The Sign of Jonah” ending to Brant Pitre’s The Case for Jesus. A good companion book by a non-believer is historian Tom Holland’s Dominion, which fills out Pitre’s case that what happened in Ninevah is happening worldwide to this day.

Second, Easter says: “Search the Scriptures!”

Jesus quoted Scripture from the cross, and then drew attention to Scriptures repeatedly after rising from the dead.

John’s Gospel explains that even though Peter and John believed after seeing the burial cloths, “They did not yet understand the Scripture.” In Luke, the risen Jesus gives his own guided tour of the Scriptures for two disciples.

We should go to the Scriptures too. The best brief tour of Scripture that I know of is the Ascension book Walking With God: A Journey Through the Bibleby Tim Gray and Jeff Cavins. But Bishop Robert Barron, Father Mike Schmitz, the Augustine Institute, the St. Paul Biblical Center, Ignatius Press, and Ascension offer other great resources.

Third, Jesus in agony and Jesus risen say: Talk with me.

One of the greatest disgraces in Christian history is when Jesus asked his apostles to pray with him, and they slept instead. But he rose from the dead so we can right that wrong.

He keeps initiating conversations after the Resurrection, with the women at the tomb, with the Emmaus disciples, and with the apostles in their room and by the lake.

Clearly, Jesus rose in order to initiate a relationship with us. He takes the first step, approaching us. We have to take the next step, entering the conversation.

How? Fourth, Easter says: Find Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and with his mother.

Two other indelible images of Passion Week are the Last Supper and the Pieta. Jesus Instituted the Eucharist to remain with us, and Jesus gave us his mother from the cross so that she would lead us to him.

Then, after the resurrection, he answered the request to “Stay with us” by giving his disciples the Eucharist, and the early Church gathered around his mother to pray.

Ever since then, the Blessed Sacrament and the Blessed Mother have been hallmarks of Catholic piety, and Eucharistic Adoration and the Rosary have been mainstays of prayer.

Fifth, Easter says: Tell others about Jesus.

At the crucifixion, Peter wept bitterly over his failure to tell people that he knew Jesus. After the Resurrection, he didn’t make that mistake again: They had to kill him to make him stop preaching Christ.

Over and over again, in nearly every Resurrection narrative, people are “sent” by Easter.

The  angels send the women, and Jesus does too. The Emmaus disciples rush to Jerusalem to share their experience. Jesus sends the apostles, saying, “As the Father sends me, so I send you,” and he sends all of us with,  “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.” He died and rose so that we would share the good news. Here’s how to start.

Tags:
EucharistPrayerScriptureSpiritual Life
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