BY FATHER BERNIE PIETRZAK
Dear People of Saint Anne,
More than just a day, the Church gives us a seven–week Easter season to celebrate. Yet, especially in this last year, as we have dealt with the COVID crisis, our everyday lives have felt so dark and heavy that celebration is not a part of our reality. When we add critical illness in our families, the loss of a job, disappointment in a relationship or the burdens of everyday life, it can be quite a challenge to feel particularly joyful – in this current Easter season.
But the joy that we are being invited to know in this season, is beyond what we see in our everyday lives. It’s true that Jesus says, Come to me and bring me your burdens but we usually can’t believe it. Maybe we don’t want to believe it. If we really allow Jesus to come into our hearts the way Christ wants to, will he ask us to change our lives in ways that are too hard? How do we share the chaos of our lives with Christ? If we keep him at arm’s length, our lives might be difficult, but at least our problems are familiar. What would it cost us to let go and change our lives?
We know our own faults and failings so well. Too well. We begin to believe that Jesus loves the way we love – with all of our human limits. How could Christ love us and accept us the way we are right now? Maybe when we fix a few things about our lives, love our spouse a little better, stop being so critical of family members, stop criticizing and love more… then … when we are perfect, then Christ will love us.
If we can overcome our fears, the real power of letting Christ into our lives, is how free our hearts will become. Suddenly, we are not afraid, not burdened and simply ready to serve with the Lord.
Jesus loves us – right now. At this moment, Jesus holds each one of us in his loving gaze and loves us so freely at a depth that our human minds can’t take in. Whether we comprehend this or not, Jesus loves us endlessly and waits for us with his arms open, ready to hold and support us.
As we receive his embrace and feel the peace and joy of Easter wash over us, we can look over his shoulder, and see beyond to those in need who now wait for us. That’s when we realize that the real joy in our lives is putting aside our own faults, challenges, and difficulties for a while and entering into the lives of others.
Pope Francis said at Easter, we leave ourselves behind and encounter others by “being close to those crushed by life’s troubles, sharing with the needy, standing at the side of the sick, elderly and the outcast.”
We are being missioned as Easter People. We find peace in Jesus’ love for us and now we share it with others. We find ourselves standing side by side with Jesus, looking together at those we are being sent to love.
That is where the real joy of Easter waits for us.
Father Bernie Pietrzak