Behold! Christus Resurrexit! Happy Easter! We have fifty days to celebrate the joyous occasion of Christ rising and the promise of feasting at the eternal banquet! What more do I even need to write? Growing up, I saw Easter as a time to put on my white tights and gloves, wear a flurry floral print dress, and fill my tummy with all the best-tasting jellybeans. Intermixed with the secular rituals of the Easter bunny and hunting for eggs, I found it to be glorious. As I have matured in age and in faith, Easter has become a much more profound experience. The wonderful thing about being a Catholic Christian is that the celebration does not last for one day alone. We celebrate this greatest of solemnities for fifty days, but the journey to understanding it’s the Paschal Mystery lasts a lifetime. Will we ever tire of the feasting and revelry in that truth? We can uncover some of the answers to that question in one word: behold.
Since Advent of this past year, I’ve been struck by the word “behold” in Scripture. There are a myriad of voices that bring a message of change and renewal. The story of the Annunciation with the angel Gabriel and Mary is one poignant example. “Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy…(Lk 2:10)” and “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord (Lk 1:38).” The other instance I turn to is in the Liturgy of the Eucharist, also coming from the voice of Scripture, “Behold the Lamb of God. Behold him who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are those who are called to the Supper of the Lamb(Jn 1:29).” Not once, but twice are we asked to “behold” God’s love for us in the Incarnate Word, Mary’s “yes,” and the sacrificial lamb who died because of sin and calls us to humility. To be, and to hold. This is where Christ asks us to make him the beginning and end of our lives. To be with him in stillness and consider how we are “holding our treasure in earthen vessels (2Cor 4:7).” What better time to be and to hold then during the Easter Season.
This was a buzzword as I waited in joyful expectation during this past Advent. Yet, another verse with the word surfaced during the desert period of Lent. “Behold, I make all things new” Christ relates to John in Revelation. (Rev 21:5)Gabriel and Mary’s “behold” has become an invitation to change and renewal in daily life. We celebrate the chance to experience this renewal in the mystery of the Resurrection. Christ has made things new for us!
I personally have experienced a professional renewal and I can sense, after my Lenten resolutions, a change in my awareness. I have come to reflect more on thoughts and reactions, to be patient with others, and to revitalize relationships. I know that what brought me to this place during Lent is the hope of the cross and taking time to “behold” the mystery of God’s love.
So, I guess there was more for me to write! Even though we have the vision of the eternal banquet does not mean we can rest there, perhaps relating to how Peter, James, and John wish to pitch tents after witnessing the glory of the Transfiguration.(Mt 17:1-8) The renewal that we are called to is painful and oftentimes uncomfortable. Slow, patient, gentle change can lead to a new outlook on habits, mistakes, perspectives, maybe even relationships that have imprisoned us. “If you saw the face of God and Love, would you change?” the artist Tracy Chapman sings in her song “Change.” We have the opportunity to see that face, and we celebrate it during the Easter Season. Let’s do a little dance in celebration and remember the challenge to “behold” this mystery and renew our hearts.
Sophie Jacobucci serves as an Echo Apprentice in the Diocese of Manchester, NH.