He Is Risen!

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I fell asleep during Good Friday Mass.

It started while I was standing and reading the (really long) Gospel passage. My eyelids became heavier, and I zoned out a couple of times. When it was time for the homily, I gratefully leaned my head back against the wall and closed my eyes.

Like the disciples who fell asleep while waiting for Jesus to finish praying, my spirit was willing; but my flesh was weak.

A Half-Hearted Lent

My unintentional Good Friday sleep was the crowning end to a half-hearted Lent. I started with good intentions: I wanted to give up YouTube, spend more time with my parents, and be more mindful of God’s presence in my life.

But midway, when life got too hectic and work got too busy, it was easy to let these good intentions slip away. Soon, I was skipping my nightly prayers, snapping at my parents when I got irritated at them, and generally being very un-Lenten about everything.

So when I woke up from my slumber during Good Friday Mass, I felt really guilty. Wasn’t I supposed to be more mindful and prayerful? Wasn’t this Lent supposed to be transformational for my spiritual life?

And yet, here I was, feeling no different from when I started out 40 days ago. I felt a little unworthy for celebrating Easter, which was just 2 days away.

A Vigil Decision

As Good Friday Mass ended, Br Cornelius made an announcement. He said, “If you haven’t gone for Easter Vigil before, I highly encourage you to come. It’s a beautiful experience.”

There were 100 other ways I would have preferred to spend a Saturday night, but it was just one night a year. And so I made a decision: I would attend this Easter Vigil to see what all the fuss was about.

My Lent may have been half-hearted, but it wasn’t too late to make a commitment to make Easter more meaningful.

So I went to Easter Vigil at the Church of St. Francis Xavier.

Br Cornelius was right – it was a beautiful experience. Candlelight, readings, singing, etc. But more than just the aesthetic aspects of it, the people around me were truly joyful. There’s no other way to describe it. Everywhere I turned, people were smiling. Everyone was singing at the tops of their voices.

However, the part that really struck me was the baptism of the catechumens. You could see it in their faces: That look of pure joy as they emerged from the baptismal font, dripping wet but eyes sparkling in victory. And the congregation bursting into loud applause as they welcomed each and every member into the Christian community.

It was a joy that you can’t see anywhere else but the living Church.

An Epiphany

And so as I knelt down to pray, my heart was filled with joy. Maybe it was just the atmosphere. Maybe it was the songs. Maybe it was the Holy Spirit. Who knows? But I certainly felt something as I was praying.

And then I realised: That despite my half-hearted Lent, despite my failings and sins and disappointments, the Lord still invites me to celebrate in the joy of His Resurrection.

He Is Risen! This is the bedrock of our faith. The reason that we’re all saved. It doesn’t matter how much we fall short. It doesn’t matter that we’re mired in sin. It’s okay if we inadvertently slip in our Lenten commitments (or don’t make them at all).

Because He Is Risen. He has conquered sin and death, and He has redeemed us all.

So today, go out and celebrate Easter. Maybe you don’t feel worthy because you didn’t do much at Lent. Maybe you’re a little guilty because you skipped out on Confession.

That’s okay. Really. 

Jesus welcomes you to celebrate His Resurrection anyway. Hug your family and high-five your friends. Wish everyone a Happy Easter and mean it.

And then renew your heart and make a new commitment to turn back to Him. Do something concrete this Easter: Find a community (Seven Graces always accepts new members!), attend a Bible study class, sign up for RCIA.

Because He has risen from the dead and He is Lord!

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