April 24, 2009

Faith and Family / Sean Gallagher

Rejoice in the gift of life during the Easter season

Sean GallagherI love spring.

It is, by far, my favorite season of the year. I like the fact that the daylight hours in spring noticeably grow longer. And I find myself filled with a new vitality as I see flowers blossoming and new leaves on trees all around me.

The fact that we celebrate Easter in the spring (at least those of us who live in the Northern Hemisphere) adds a spiritual depth to the season that is already a happy one for me.

The new life budding forth in creation is a constant reminder of the new and eternal life that our Lord made possible for all of us when he rose triumphant from the tomb.

The sacramental connection between creation and its Creator was emphasized for me in an even more powerful way this past Easter Sunday.

Since my mother-in-law’s birthday happened to fall on Easter this year, all of her 11 children, the spouses of those that are married and their 14 grandchildren all came to her home to celebrate the special day.

That, in itself, would ordinarily make for a great Easter celebration of life.

But when you add the fact that four of the young mothers there (including my wife, Cindy) were pregnant and awaiting the birth of their babies within the next few months just showed how much life is the greatest of our God-given gifts.

When we parents of young children recognize this, we should rejoice, no matter how challenging babies and little children can be at times.

But life is something to joyfully embrace at the other end of the age spectrum as well.

This was also highlighted for me on Easter Sunday.

My 71-year-old father had been hospitalized on Holy Thursday evening with a potentially dangerous infection.

Thankfully, as the Triduum progressed, his physical condition greatly improved. It almost seemed that as the Church solemnly recalled Jesus’ suffering and death step by step that my dad was getting better little by little.

And by Easter Sunday morning, when the Church joyfully proclaimed the new and eternal life given to us all by Christ, my father was discharged.

I was happily disappointed that I was unable to give him holy Communion on Easter Sunday morning after my family and I had gone to Mass. I arrived at the hospital an hour after he had gone home.

What my dad went through is emblematic of the great spiritual revolution that Christ brought about in the soul of each person through his suffering, death and resurrection.

Before he completed our redemption in his Paschal mystery, we were all spiritually sick like my father was physically ill on Holy Thursday night.

But then Christ freely gave himself over into our hands to suffer and die for us. He fulfilled in his flesh what the prophet Isaiah wrote long ago and that we heard proclaimed on Good Friday:

“He was pierced for our offenses, crushed for our sins; upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole, by his stripes we were healed” (Is 53:5).

Our risen Lord is the source of our life. Everything that is good about life comes from him. And so this season of Easter that we are now entering should be a time for us to give thanks for life, the greatest of his gifts, and to rejoice in it.

Standing in joy-filled awe before the great gift of life should make spring all the more beautiful for each of us. †

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