Midway through Lent, I wondered how I would celebrate the joy of Easter. Often, Lent gives me an intense hunger for what I gave up, food, or maybe an activity; but this year was different.
With some of my sisters, I volunteered at a local soup kitchen. It was my first time at this location in Rome and the patrons were immigrants from all over the world. It felt like a feast of the nations because of the diversity of people and the joyful atmosphere that permeated the room.
I felt a true closeness to material poverty, while also feeling a closeness to Christ. “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me." Matthew 25:40; and there it was inscribed on the walls of the dining area. But before I could applaud my good deed, it dawned on me. I was seeking something to give up, but had missed the point of why. It was to unite myself in a deeper way to Christ and to his mission. If the focus remained on me, I wasn’t doing his work. Here, I had a moment to recognize my own poverty and most basic need: for God and personal conversion.
We all need God; but too often we cling to substitutes and lose sight of Who and what matters. I admit, at times our needs can become our cross, as I experienced that night. But as Christians, we accept Christ’s Cross as the path to the Resurrection and we celebrate Christ’s victory over the Cross, every day, especially at Easter. Timothy Radcliffe, O.P, says “we carry our cross not to be masochistic…but it means that we dare to embrace the life that is given to us, with its joys and suffering, its blessing and limitations."(Stations of the Cross, p.18)
Hopefully, Lent has given us time to reflect; time to recognize our joys, our sufferings, our needs and our crosses. We are not asked to carry this alone for Christ is always with us and we have a faith community to support us. So this Easter, remember the reason we celebrate and rejoice in the Power of the Cross over sin, sadness, and death. Rejoice in the One who came to save us, be joyful and let His light radiate through you. Celebrate the Resurrection and whatever follows. Alleluia! Alleluia!