Easter, Shawshank Style

It’s Easter! Praise the Lord! Not only because Jesus has risen from the dead, defeated sin and death, and won for us our salvation, but also because I can now use the snooze button I gave up for Lent.

No shame.

Personally, it’s hard for me to enter into Easter as a season. The stores all lead up to Easter with aisles and aisles of chocolate bunnies and Easter eggs as a constant reminder of what is to come, but once Easter hits, everything is back to normal. I have a habit of putting so much stock in Lent, that I forget that Easter is bigger and better. As Catholics in general, we put a good amount of effort into Lent. We talk about “entering into Lent”, and the “best Lent ever”. We try to be present with Jesus in his suffering and death. Even nominal Catholics trade “what I am giving up for Lent” stories.

Easter’s 50 days of celebration should
trump Lent’s 40 days of penance,
but it doesn’t for some reason.

Christians have traditionally called themselves an “Easter people”
…but what does it mean to be an Easter people when “Easter” means “back to normal”?

To be an Easter people means that we are forever living in the joy of the hope of our salvation. It means we know how bad our screw-ups are; we’ve smelled the stench of our sins, yet we’ve found freedom and salvation in Jesus Christ. This is cause for great joy! We should be shouting in the streets! Our whole lives need to revolve around the beautiful truth that we are now free! But why doesn’t it?

I think we forget about the joy of Easter because we forget about the reality of hope. We’re so stuck in our ruts and routines that we forget that there is something better. There’s a quote from the movie Shawshank Redemption that I have always loved. The scene is set in a maximum-security prison, and the conversation is between an old man named Red and a falsely convicted inmate named Andy. Red says to Andy, “Let me tell you something my friend. Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane.” Red has lived nearly his whole life in prison, and has resigned himself to dying inside those walls. Andy, on the other hand, busies himself with projects that make the prison a better place, like building a library and helping other men get obtain their GED’s.

Give yourself permission to hope, to be an Easter people, and to live in joy

Red’s experience has warped his view on life. On one hand, Red is right: hope is a dangerous thing. On the other hand, Red never gave himself permission to hope. He never allowed himself to live his life; he was resigned to stay right where he was, doing the things he’s always done. That is reminiscent of what we do. Instead of living in hope like Andy, we are content in our prison like Red.

Jesus’ resurrection should change all of that for us! Just as we observe Lent by giving something up or doing penance, let’s observe Easter by finding something extra to do as well. Live in the hope and joy of our own resurrection! Thank Jesus for his sacrifice every day. [tweetthis]He died so that we might live, so let’s start living.[/tweetthis]

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