Get Back Up Again

The spring sunlight streamed in through the large refectory windows of Villa Maria Guadalupe to further brighten an already festive and joy-filled scene on Easter Sunday: the room was packed with Sisters and guests from our Visitation mission whom we had invited up to celebrate the glorious occasion of the Resurrection of our Lord. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass had been fittingly jubilant, and joyful shouts of “Alleluia!” could still be heard ringing through the air. The Easter egg hunt had been a great success, giving the normally city-confined children not only a large basket-full of yummy sweets, but also the opportunity to run free for a while on the giant lawn.

Now, as we sat down for a family-style lunch amid sprays of lilies and hyacinths and roses – both real flowers and in the form of our flower-folded cloth napkins at each place – I began a conversation with the wide-eyed 5 year old sitting at my table. She proudly showed me some of her treasure from the hunt, but reminded me that “mommy said we can only eat more after we eat our dinner!” What amazing self-control!

We began to talk about the meaning of Easter, and I asked if she knew what happened on this day that made it so special. Her response made me smile: “It’s because when Jesus was down, He got back up again!”

“Well, yes, that’s one way to put it,” I thought, but as I reflected further, I realized just how apt that summary is, not just for understanding the mysteries of the Paschal Season, but for living the entire Christian life!

On His way to Calvary to suffer and die for love of us, Jesus literally was down, having fallen three times under the heavy burden of the Cross, but each time He got back up again, finding strength to keep going, set on fulfilling His Father’s will. And though at the crucifixion it seemed like His entire mission was an utter failure – when His closest followers and friends betrayed and abandoned Him and the Kingdom He came to establish seemed like nothing but a mockery of reeds instead of scepters and thorns instead of crowns- He rose again victorious on the third day, ushering in the true Kingdom of God. On Good Friday, it appeared that He was defeated, overcome, buried in the tomb; but even death could not hold Him down! “O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:55)

This truth should give us great hope that no matter what hardships we face, no matter what disappointments, weaknesses, and failures we experience, in the power of Christ we can get back up. When the darkness of evil overpowers us, when sin causes us to trip and fall, He offers us His unwavering mercy through the Sacrament of Confession. Jesus desires us to share in His Resurrection, and He will take us by the hand and raise us up to walk again with Him. Robert Louis Stevenson reminds us that “Saints are sinners who kept on going.” Let us imitate our Lord, who was down but not out, and rise with confidence and hope after every fall, moving forward again on our journey to one day become saints in Heaven, where we will enjoy everlasting Easter joy!

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. (2 Corinthians 4:7-10)

Do not rejoice over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will arise; though I sit in darkness, the Lord is my light. (Micah 7:8) Lord, thank you for being my light. Thank you for suffering and dying for love of me, and for crushing death by Your death and Resurrection. Give me the strength to rise again after every fall, to trust in Your mercy, and no matter what happens, to always find the courage to begin again on my path toward You. Amen.