This is Monday within the OCTAVE of Easter: eight days to let the powerful mystery and truth of Easter deepen in our hearts. The number “eight” is important to us Christians, for it symbolizes and points to the DAY that never ends. This “eighth day” isn’t a part of the chronological measurement of time, like the “seven days” we live out each and every week, time that is repeated and measured: after the seventh day, Sunday, we return to the first day on Monday. But when the Risen Lord returns, time will cease to be measured, day by day, week by week, month by month... there will only be ONE day on which the sun (Son) never sets or leaves.
The EIGHT sides of our baptismal font; the EIGHT-pointed stars that grace our stained glass windows throughout the church; the EIGHT crosses embedded into our altar of the Eucharist... these and this OCTAVE of eight days point to an eternal day of Easter, of life, of love, of Jesus Risen. The week after Christmas, that marks the beginning of our Redemption and the week after Easter, which marks the fulfillment of our Redemption, are EIGHT days long!!! It takes “time” to let the mystery envelop us.
Live today, tomorrow, each of these eight days as an Easter celebration extended IN TIME, as we await the timeLESS experience of being together in the presence of the Living God. In today’s gospel Mary runs away from the tomb in joy and in fear, two opposite emotions that will coalesce into ONE experience of joy. They encounter Jesus on the journey away from the empty tomb, out of the cemetery, because Jesus can’t be contained by the most fearful reality of our lives: death. The beginning of the spreading of the Word, “evangelization” begins with Mary telling the others of this life shattering news. “Why look for the living among the dead.”
This is so powerful, awesome (a word that is a bit overused but I’m using it anyway for effect), life changing and world altering that we need eight days to celebrate. In the midst of this difficult time of separation and quarantine, let Easter joy saturate your hearts. Even if you are struggling with illness, a loved one lost in addiction or depression, a broken relationship, many doubts about God, please don’t deprive yourself of JOY, a gift that may not make you “happy” but will bring you a deep tranquility connecting you to this ever living God who will never abandon you. This takes time to set in.