The Hope of Easter

Suzanne Cooke, RSCJ
During this first week of the Easter season, we hear story after story of Christ’s friends and disciples encountering Him as the Risen One. Can you imagine what it was like to be one of them?
No matter which account all capture the sense of profound loss, grief and confusion that Christ’s followers were experiencing in the face of the crucifixion. They seem consumed by wondering how could Christ have died? Grief and loss as well as anxiety and fear dominate their perspectives. With this framework they meet Christ. Each time one of them encounters the Risen Christ, Jesus seems compelled by the person’s look or manner to say immediately, Peace be with you. Christ’s concern is first for the other person.
Let’s for a moment consider some of these encounters --  Mary in the Garden, the disciples on the road to Emmaus and Thomas meeting Christ in the upper room. In each, Jesus’ approach focuses on the particular person(s). Drawing from His knowledge of the person, Jesus calls the person to have confidence to trust Him. His manner with Mary is different from Thomas. Drawing on the personal relationship Jesus has enjoyed with each of them, He helps each navigate this extraordinary, amazing moment. I think each appearance is intimate. The impact on all who experience Christ is a surge of awe which quickly evolves into the urgent act to communicate the extraordinary good news that Christ is risen. From the tragedy of the Crucifixion is born the hope of Easter.
What impact has Easter had on us? How we are encountering Christ and in what way are we proclaiming this central mystery of our faith – Christ has died and Christ is risen? 

In our discernment of these questions, we might benefit from Pope Francis’ third
Apostolic Exhortation Gaudete et exsultate, or “Rejoice and be glad.”  Francis’ third apostolic exhortation is subtitled “On the call to holiness in the contemporary world.” Francis invites us to see the entirety of our lives as a mission and explained that this is accomplished by listening to God in prayer and asking the Holy Spirit for guidance in each moment and decision. “A Christian cannot think of his or her mission on earth without seeing it as a path of holiness,” he stated, explaining that this path has its “fullest meaning in Christ, and can only be understood through him.”  “To walk the path of holiness requires prayer and contemplation alongside action; the two cannot be separated. … “We are called to be contemplatives even in the midst of action, and to grow in holiness by responsibly and generously carrying out our proper mission.” During this season of Easter, let us continue to find the time for prayer and go from that encounter with Christ out to the world to bring a sense of hope.
Schools of the Sacred Heart share in the educational mission of the Society of the Sacred Heart as articulated in the Goals and Criteria. The structure supporting Sacred Heart education in Canada and the United States includes the Conference of Sacred Heart Education and the Network of Sacred Heart Schools.  Together they provide services and programs to ensure vitality of mission for the member schools sponsored by the Society of the Sacred Heart.