A young man named Ted sits alone, listless, eyes vacant, lost in dark thoughts. He stares at the loaded gun in his lap. The isolation of the Covid pandemic has taken its toll. Across town, organ music fills a church. Women with colorful hats are adorned in their finest, men are in suits and children are dressed in bright colorful clothes. On this Easter Sunday, the congregation joyfully sings “Jesus Christ is Risen Today”. Back across town, devoid of joy and weeping, Ted reaches for the gun. I invite you to read more.
We have likely all witnessed an Easter Egg Hunt. Some children finish with baskets overflowing, others end up with empty baskets. A child with an empty basket can be devastated and nearly inconsolable. But, in an instant, happiness returns when another child shares some of the goodies in their basket with the child who had none. Life for that child, is again filled with joy.
If only it were that easy for adults. Maybe it is! There are times when life knocks adults to the ground and leaves them in utter despair. For them, Easter joy seems nowhere to be found. They need someone to fill their baskets. Let’s take a deeper look.
In another town Sally, a young, divorced, mother of three, and a lifelong Christian, lies curled up on cold concrete in a dark alley. Her addiction to heroine has defeated her this day. Her endless battle for sobriety seems lost. Joy has abandoned her on this Easter morn.
Across the country, Robbie, the pastor of a large congregation sits at his desk before Easter service begins. His head is buried in his hands. He is lost in thought, wondering what his life will be like after his congregation, wife and children discover the news that he has been skimming thousands of dollars from the collection plate to spend on prostitutes and a hidden life of dissipation. He knows it is only a matter of time before his sinful deeds are discovered. He wonders if he will spend years in jail. He fears the loss of family and friends. He is despondent. Easter joy escapes him.
Charlie is a partner in a successful construction company. He is active in the community, well-liked, and a committed, active member of his parish. As Charlie sits in Mass on Easter morning, his thoughts are consumed with the reality that he recently cheated his partner out of a million-dollar deal. He listens as these words from Colossians 3:1-2 are read, “If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Think of what is above, not of what is on earth.” Charlie knows he has fallen short of these words, and the joy of Easter feels distant.
Do we as “believers,” truly grasp in our heart the reality that Christ died and rose from the dead to defeat the death and darkness of our own sins and failings? Do we take seriously our calling to share this news with others? Do we realize that the world is filled with broken and hurting people who urgently need to hear this message? Do we see those who are broken in our own midst? Metaphorically speaking, too many people have empty Easter baskets.
Psalm 34:19 states, “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted, saves those whose spirit is crushed.” Psalm 34:23 tells us, “The LORD is the redeemer of the souls of his servants; and none are condemned who take refuge in him.” Do we believe this with all of our being? If so, we should feel compelled to share this message and the joy of Easter with the hurting and broken people of the world. If we don’t, who will? Ted, Sally, Robbie, and Charlie urgently need the Easter message. So do people around us every day. We can’t wait to share it.
In Luke 5:31-32 it is written, “Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do. I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners.” John 3:17 states, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.” These words encapsulate the joyous message of Easter.
Sometimes we tend to store up blessings only for ourselves, like the rich man in Luke’s Gospel 12:16-21 who built barns to store more grain for himself, not realizing he was about to die. The joy of Easter was not meant to be hoarded. It must be shared. The real joy of Easter is discovered when we share the story of Christ’s death and resurrection and His love, forgiveness, and mercy with someone struggling with the pains of life.
Let’s make sure that no one has an empty Easter basket this year. Let’s share our good news today!
Heavenly Father thank you for the gift of your Son Jesus. I believe that He died to set us free from our sins and rose to open the gates of Heaven for all who believe in Him. Give me the strength and courage to urgently share this message with others. Lead me to those who are most in need. Amen!
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SPECIAL NOTE OF IMPORTANCE
Today’s message marks the beginning of a 10-week countdown. We are just 10 weeks away from the 500th edition of 4th Day Letters. Next week I will explain how you can participate in this special occasion.