Liturgical Texts for the Easter Season: Words of Hope

WORDS OF EASTER HOPE

“We praise you with greater joy than ever in this Easter season, when Christ became our paschal sacrifice”. These words will be very familiar to us by the end of the fifty days of Easter. They are part of all five prefaces used during the season.

Other phrases from the Easter prefaces help us “get a handle” on this pivotal time of the Christian year. There are some powerful images of Christ to be found here. Christ is described as the true lamb who takes away the sins of the world, the one who makes us children of the light and opens the gates of heaven, our advocate who always pleads our cause, the one in whom a new age has dawned and a broken world has been renewed. Such wonderful words of hope for a time when world events can make us feel despondent and helpless. Perhaps we should follow Augustine’s advice and pray standing as a sign of resurrection!

The Acts of the Apostles and the Gospel of John form the heart of the Liturgy of the Word throughout the fifty days of Easter. The readings from John focus on how Christ’s dying and rising is shared with us and on the demands this makes on us. They speak of the life of those who have been baptised, of those who have joined in Jesus’ passover meal and of their life in the company of the risen Lord.

Usually the first reading of the Liturgy of the Word comes from the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament). For the seven Sundays of Easter however it is taken from the Acts of the Apostles. The aim is not to provide us with a basic history of the early Church, but to enable us to compare our own experiences with the struggles and joys of the early Christian community in Jerusalem. Even the practical aspects of the life of the community happen within the context of the resurrection of Jesus and the accompanying gift of the spirit.

In the Easter psalms we continue to “rejoice and be glad” and “cry out to God with joy” as we sing our Alleluias! The second reading during this year (cycle A) comes from the first letter of Peter. This letter is important for its teaching on the paschal mystery and its implication for Christian life.

There is a great coherence to the readings of the Easter season because they look at the same great event over and over again from a different angle. Through the scriptures we keep returning to the inexhaustible mystery of the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.

The words of the solemn blessing of the Easter season send us forth as Easter people to bring joy, freedom and hope to the world.

Alleluia! Alleluia!

Elizabeth Harrington