By Dr. Heather Bozant Witcher, Clarion Herald
He is risen! Resounding throughout the Church on Easter morning, the proclamation of Jesus’ resurrection echoes across the Easter season.
But what does it mean?
For 40 days, we’ve prayed and fasted as a means of repentance. In preparing ourselves for the death and resurrection of Jesus, we have performed penance for our sins. We have been reminded of our own mortality and sinfulness.
And on Easter Sunday, we are reminded of the possibility of new life.
In saving humanity from sin, Jesus welcomes us into a life shared with him. For this reason, Easter is considered the most important day of our liturgical year. For, as St. Paul writes, “unless Christ rose from the dead, our faith is in vain” (1 Cor 15: 17).
Easter brings about a realization of our faith. Catholicism is set apart from other religions for its personal encounter with Jesus through his own sacrifice. Each Sunday, we commemorate Jesus’ life, death and resurrection in the celebration of the Eucharist.
The Easter season highlights a newness of spiritual life, but the world around us recalls the resurrection of natural life.
One of the aspects I’ll miss most about life in the Midwest is the arrival of distinct seasons. Of course, there are downsides to the arrival of spring – hello, pollen. But, the emergence of the daffodils and tulips, the suddenness of the buds bursting from the cherry blossoms and magnolia saucers, recall the beauty of new life. They also recall the same promise of our faith: A cyclical return, a promise that with each new year, new life is possible.
The arrival of spring also hearkens a return to the great outdoors. In the last few weeks, I’ve seen neighbors working in their gardens, pruning back all of the dead growth from the winter and hauling in new vegetation and flowers. But what’s been the most exciting has been the children frolicking in the parks, clambering over the grass and running toward the playgrounds.
Spring reminds us of the brightness of nature; particularly this year, after much of the nation has experienced a harsh and unusually long winter.
As the temperature warmed and buds began emerging, I was astounded to recall the brightness of the sun. It’s the same each year – the dullness and darkness of the winter makes way for the warmth and color of new life.
In those moments that we hear of the disciples’ return to Jesus’ tomb and their awe at the disappearance of his body, I often think of that first spring day of warmth and color.
I think of our own blinking surprise and wonder at the beauty surrounding us and am reminded that, in those moments, we are a lot like infants, emerging from the womb and entering into their new environments.
And perhaps, most of all, I am reminded of the utter dependence that we have upon our surroundings.
Because, after all, the Easter season reminds us that if we place our trust and dependence in God, then we are promised a life beyond that which we can imagine. A new life, a resurrected life of eternity.
Dr. Heather Bozant Witcher can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.