Easter gives us reason to hope

By Jaymie Stuart Wolfe

“We are an Easter people and ‘alleluia’ is our song.” We love to quote St. Augustine when we talk about what the church of Jesus Christ is. And honestly, there may be no better description. But I think a lot of us, somewhere along the line, have lost hope that we will experience the fullness of salvation that Christ’s resurrection signifies on this side of eternity. Instead, we settle for something far less than God intends for us.

What do I mean? Basically, that a lot of Catholics have simply given up.

It often goes something like this. We get a bit older, weighed down with adult responsibility, and the glow of our faith – our childlike trust in God – can begin to wear off. We pray, but the answer we want doesn’t occur. We undergo times of suffering and loss, but there is little relief or consolation to be found. We grow frustrated banging our heads against the same walls, and falling to the same temptations and sins again and again.

Jaymie Stuart Wolfe

So we throw up our hands and decide to accept the way things are, and even more to the point, the way we are. We convince ourselves that nothing will ever really change, that all we’ve been taught to believe just isn’t going to work for us. God may be very busy blessing other people, but we can’t expect to be holy, healed or forgiven anytime soon. Life, we tell ourselves, just doesn’t work that way. The Gospel stories may well be true, but it is unlikely that Jesus will ever speak to us or transform us – let alone raise us from the dead.

Amid that kind of hopelessness, we may well be tempted to throw in the towel. Many have done just that. It’s understandable, of course. There are only so many times we can ask ourselves, “Why am I here?” before we decide not to be. Or before we allow the lies of the enemy to distract, discourage and distance us from what God wants to give us. The problem is that once we expect nothing, we become incapable of receiving much of anything.

Easter sets us straight.

The evil one wants us to believe that the character defects we’ve always had – the ones that are responsible for the bulk of the sins we confess – aren’t going anywhere. That is not the case. While we may not reach perfection in this life, we can make genuine and significant progress. Old habits are tough to beat. But God’s grace makes up for where our efforts fail. The Holy Spirit dwelling in our hearts is the gift of sanctifying grace. What doesn’t happen here on earth will be completed in purgatory. The good news is that everyone who wants to be a saint will, in fact, become one.

We may be tempted to give up on healing past hurts. Dogged by brokenness and struggling to find peace, we can lose sight of God’s healing presence. But the glorified wounds of Jesus show us not only what God can do. All we have suffered is given a part in our redemption and in the redemption of others. Easter means that what is ugliest in our lives is made not only beautiful, but glorious.

Our sins, no matter how great, can be forgiven. There is nothing that puts us beyond God’s reach, other than our own choice to reject his mercy. The enemy of our souls would be happy to see us wallowing in our own sinfulness, uncertain of God’s willingness to forgive us. Easter shows us that is precisely what the Savior does for anyone – anyone – who asks.

Salvation is not just a happy ending in another life. The stone has been rolled away. The reign of the Victor King begins here and now. We don’t become who we were created to be only by leaving this world behind. Death in all its forms has been conquered by the Risen Christ. We don’t have to die with a full complement of all our sins and failures. Jesus breaks the bond of sin. We might be tempted to doubt the truth or power of the Resurrection as some of Jesus’ disciples did. But Easter really does change everything, and it can change us. Even more, Easter can raise us from the dead.

(Jaymie Stuart Wolfe is a sinner, Catholic convert, freelance writer and editor, musician, speaker, pet-aholic, wife and mom of eight grown children, loving life in New Orleans.)