In many ways, we know how to be a Good Friday people. We know that this life is full of suffering. We are at least somewhat aware of our sin and imperfections, and that we can’t fix them on our own.
But what does it really mean to be an Easter people? St. John Paul II (1986) famously said that “we are an Easter people, and alleluia is our song!” What does it look like, practically speaking, to live in the power of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ in your day-to-day life? What does it mean to live like you believe in a God who conquered death by death, who harrowed hell, and who rose again in glory?
Let’s begin with what being an Easter people is not. First, it isn’t helpful to anyone – you, or those around you – to force cheerfulness. A saccharine disposition cannot make up for a restless heart. A Christian is supposed to live an abundant, full, attractive life – but when tragedy, or pain, or suffering occur, it is okay to be honest and authentic with those around you. Jesus wept. Jesus suffered emotional anguish in the garden of Gethsemane. While we should strive for virtuous joy, we need not put on airs.
Second, living in the power of the Resurrection does not mean that Christians have no problems in their lives. Quite to the contrary, Jesus asserts that the Christian must “deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Luke 9:23). Crosses will come— some small, some unbearable— and the Lord asks us to carry them, not to ignore them.
On the contrary, living in the power of the Resurrection is what makes the Christian life attractive to those around us. We need to work towards having radical trust in God’s will. Remembering that taking up your cross is a daily part of the Christian life frees us from being wrecked by whatever crosses or sufferings come our way. When trials do come and we respond with interior peace, it is truly radical, even mysterious to those who don’t have hope in Christ. Having the trust of a child that the Father will provide is difficult, and is something we will forever be working toward. But if our God rose from the dead, surely he can handle whatever trials we’re facing.
We also must radically love our neighbors. It is difficult to turn from looking entirely inward —what do I need today? What does my family need from me?— to looking outward— who does the Lord want me to minister to today? Who is the Lord putting into my path so I can share the gospel with them? Seizing the opportunity to pray with others is a particularly powerful way to exercise this. Do we have the courage to pray with the cashier who just lost her husband? The trust to give a meal or a few dollars to the homeless man you pass every day? The world sees these as foolishness, but we know that helping the poor and needy is an opportunity to serve Christ himself.
The Resurrection should also give us boldness. Are we willing to share the joy of the Resurrection every chance we get? Are we aching to evangelize? I get so excited to share a new show or funny YouTube video with the people around me, but when it comes to Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, I often clam up. But we need to pray daily for the grace to be conduits of the Truth to everyone we meet, whether it’s convenient or inconvenient.
Finally, one of the most powerful gifts the Resurrection gives to us is to remember that “this world is thy ship, and not thy home” (St. Therese of Lisieux). So whatever we do in this life, the places we should primarily spend our time are those that support our vocation, nourish our bodies, minds and souls, and serve the kingdom of God. This doesn’t mean that we forsake the friendships, fun, and comforts that the world has to offer, but we always need to remember that world is not our home. We are just passing through, and by the grace of God, a glorified life awaits.