By Father Alonzo Cox
Over the course of my almost 11 years of priesthood, I can honestly say that Easter Sunday has to be one of my favorite liturgies. There’s something about Easter Sunday that brings about a spirit of welcome and community.
Each year I look forward to seeing families gather in Church, wearing their “Sunday best” outfits. You can see the joy on children’s faces as they carry around their Easter baskets and their content. There’s a spirit of joy in the air on Easter Sunday as the newly baptized from the Easter Vigil come to Mass to participate in the Eucharist celebration. Ultimately, as we gather to celebrate, we can feel the joy of the resurrection.
That certainly was not the feeling one year ago. I would even go so far as to say that the sentiment on Easter Sunday last year was the complete opposite. There was not much joy in the air. There was no welcome spirit, primarily because there was no one to welcome to our churches. Everyone was still under the COVID-19 stay-at-home lockdown. But it was still Easter Sunday. The liturgies still needed to be celebrated but in a very unique and different way. With modern technology and social
media, I celebrated Easter Sunday Mass in an empty church in front of a camera.
This situation, of course, dampened my spirit and the spirits of the hundreds of parishioners who could not be in their spiritual home for one of the most important days of the Christian calendar. Although it was a very different celebration, what remains the same is that Jesus has been raised from the dead! The Resurrection of the Lord will forever and always stay at the core of our faith. We, as disciples of the risen Lord, must never forget that fundamental truth.
As challenging and complex as Easter 2020 was, we must not allow our faith to be shaken as we move forward. We celebrate this Easter with great hope! Although we are still living amid this global pandemic, we have seen tremendous strides in moving us to live “normal” lives once again. This Easter has allowed me to grow in faith and hope. We reflect on the many blessings and graces that God has bestowed upon us throughout this past year.
We come to the empty tomb this Easter with hearts filled with gratitude and praise that the Lord has gotten us to this moment to praise him and to bless his holy name. We know that from the darkness and sadness of the cross comes the light and joy of the Resurrection.
As we make our way back to a life of “normalcy,” we must never lose hope in the great love God has for us and all of his people. We keep the words of John the Evangelist alive in our minds, hearts, and souls; God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son to free us from our sins and to lead us to the eternal Kingdom of Heaven. May this Easter Sunday be filled with the joy and hope of the Resurrection. Christ is alive! Let the heavens be glad, and the earth rejoice.
Father Cox is the pastor of St. Martin de Porres Parish, Bedford-Stuyvesant and coordinator for the Vicariate of Black Catholic Concerns for the Diocese of Brooklyn.