Saint John Paul II famously said “We are an Easter people and Alleluia is our song!” (Angelus, 30 November 1986). Let’s face it: it’s hard to be an Easter people. By the time we get to the Fourth Sunday of Easter, the initial joy we experienced of Christ’s resurrection on Easter Sunday has probably worn off. At home we probably celebrated for a good week or two. But, now the ham is gone (or if not, we’re sick of it), all or most of the candy is eaten (and we’re regretting that--I know I am...), and maybe our decorations are put away. At church, most of the lilies haven’t made it this far. The alleluias may not have the same joy that they did three weeks ago. Even the readings seem to move away from Easter beginning with this Sunday. We hear resurrection accounts in the Gospel for the first three Sundays and we won’t hear another until the Ascension on May 16. It’s hard to be an Easter people. We are much better at being Lenten people--“checking the boxes”: we gave X, Y, or Z up; we added extra prayer to our day or went to an extra Mass; we gave more to charity; we fasted from TV or social media. But when it comes to seven weeks of Easter feasting, we usually fizzle out. And that’s where we have to step up our game. Easter joy--an encounter with the Risen Christ--does not just magically come to us. We have to actively seek it (and him) out; and, in a world that is filled with darkness and despair, it can be difficult at times to get started.
During Easter, we are called to deepen our “grasp of the paschal mystery [by] marking it part of our lives through meditation on the Gospel, sharing in the eucharist, and doing the works of charity” (RCIA, 244). On this “Good Shepherd Sunday” as it is usually called, let us strive to better seek the voice of our Shepherd in order to know him more fully. Do we seek him in his Word, in the Eucharist, and in others? Do we live our baptismal call to bring his Good News to our brothers and sisters and serving them in charity? The Risen Christ, the Good Shepherd can be found in countless ways if we seek him. When we do seek and encounter him, the resulting joy which “dispels wickedness, washes faults away, restores innocence to the fallen, and joy to mourners” (Exsultet: The Easter Proclamation) can last forever. We ARE an Easter people and Alleluia is our song.
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