At the beginning of Lent, Basti, a 10-year old Grade 4 student, decided to abstain from meat for the duration of the season. His mother tried to convince him to instead avoid doing other things, as he needs to have protein, being a growing boy.
Determined to make the sacrifice, he told his mother that he would eat meat on Sundays because they are break days, since all Sundays are “mini-Easters.”
This is food for thought for us as we close the Octave of the Solemn Feast of the Resurrection, the greatest feast in our Christian faith. All Sundays are mini-Easters.
To appreciate this more, let us reflect on the difference between resuscitation and the Resurrection. In the Old Testament and New Testament, we have several cases of resuscitation, when a dead person is brought back to life. But there is only one case of the Resurrection.
The most famous resuscitation is that of Lazarus. The two other cases are the daughter of the synagogue official and the son of the widow of Nain. In these stories, physical life is restored.
The Resurrection is a total transformation from the physical and finite life to the spiritual and eternal life. This singular event of the Resurrection of Christ also renews the whole of creation—a transformation.
This is why every Sunday becomes important for us to take to heart as a special moment of encounter with the Risen Lord, an encounter that transforms us and, through us, the whole of creation.
For this, I would like to reflect on two favorite Resurrection narratives: Mary Magdalene’s first encounter with the Risen Lord (Matthew 28: 1-10), and the encounter of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24: 13-35).
This is a routine that I have used in retreats, recollections and seminars. Writing down your schedule, from rising to sleeping on a typical day, detailing every single activity, then writing the role you play and the expectations that come with each role, you will likely end up with eight to 12 roles.
This is how most of us live our daily lives. Pulled in all directions, we need something to center us. There is prayer, quiet time, exercise, yoga, which are all techniques. But the center is the why, or more important, the who or for whom.
This the gift of the mini-Easter—in the midst of a busy week, we make the conscious effort to stop and “go back to Galilee” where we will see the Risen Lord, perhaps revisit the past week and view it from the perspective of the Resurrection.
Mary Magdalene, in the first Resurrection encounter, goes back to the empty tomb. Each mini-Easter, I propose, can start with this ritual.
Early Sunday morning, we rise and go back to the empty tomb, the sacred space of encounter with the Risen Lord—empty because it is devoid of all other concerns, roles and expectations, and thus a fertile moment for encounter. We are alone with the Risen Lord in the sacred space and emerge from it renewed.
This pattern is prefigured in the Transfiguration narrative, the encounter with the glory of Christ in the solitude of the empty tomb, moving from being transfigured with Moses and Elijah to the solitude with his disciples for the encounter.
“And when the disciples raised their eyes, they saw no one else but Jesus alone.” (cf. Matthew 17: 5b-8) From this encounter Christ sends them back with a renewed sense of mission.
Solitude and renewal
In the narrative in Luke of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, we follow the same pattern of solitude and renewal. Here, the empty tomb is the lonely road and the picture of dusk in the midst of disappointment and defeat after the death of Christ. All the hopes and dreams of the two disciples are shattered.
In an act of “going back to Galilee,” Christ remembers with the two the story of Christ, and the two are reconnected—with the Risen Lord himself as the storyteller!
Then the special moment of encounter happens at the breaking of bread. With this encounter comes the realization of “hearts burning within.”
They run back to Jerusalem and rejoin the community that is to proclaim that Christ has risen.
These are the graces of our mini-Easters, the early Sunday mornings when, in the quiet of a new day, we go back to the empty tomb.
A postscript on mission: Reflecting on this mission using today’s Gospel, Christ missions his friends with the following assurances: He gives his peace; he sends them in the same way he was sent by the Father, bringing the forgiveness of the Father; he gives them the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of the Risen Lord.
These are the gifts of the Resurrection that empower us. Each mission carries with it the grace of being missionaries of mercy.
Today’s occasion, the Feast of the Divine Mercy, and this year’s Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, remind us that Christ came to proclaim the Father’s mercy and compassion. He is the Misericordiae Vultus, the Face of the Father’s Mercy.
We are all instruments of God to bring his mercy and forgiveness to all. All Christians have the mission to lead one another to the mercy of the Father in and through Christ.
We all witness this mercy and through this, hopefully, we lead others to their own mini-Easters where they enter the empty tomb to encounter the Risen Lord, and emerge renewed in mission to proclaim the Him who alone forgives sins.