always has to come before, and is always followed by
Have you ever stopped to consider the fact that Easter Sunday only comes after Lent, after 40 days of fasting and penance? Or more than that, even, that Easter Sunday only comes after Good Friday?
Venerable Fulton Sheen says this eloquently in Life of Christ:
Unless there is a Good Friday in our lives there will never be an Easter Sunday. The Cross is the condition of the empty tomb, and the crown of thorns is the preface to the halo of light.
When all is said and done, there are only two philosophies of life. One is first the feast, then the hangover; the other, first the fast and then the feast. … Christianity begins not with sunshine but with defeat.Out of the darkest moment in the lives of Christ’s Apostles, and, it seemed, the darkest moment in His Life, arose the brightest moment. That darkest moment was not the end.
Not only is that true in the Life of Our Blessed Lord, and continued in the liturgical and personal life of His Mystical Body the Church; it is also true in our lives–both as we follow the liturgical year of the Church, and in our own personal day-to-day lives.
Belief in that truth requires hope. There will be an end to the fasting and the penance. Good Friday is not the end; we do not need to despair–indeed, we ought not to despair.
Whatever the agonies and the Good Fridays through which we are journeying now, they will always be followed by Easter Sundays. The journey does not end on Good Friday. However much we might preach that suffering is redemptive and that mortification is an essential part of the spiritual life, we never slam on the brakes on Good Friday. We don’t congratulate ourselves on having made it to Good Friday, and then wallow in the despair and the pain and the abandonment.
Rather, from the Good Fridays of our own personal lives, we must try to say with Job:
For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and in the last day I shall rise out of the earth. And I shall be clothed again with my skin, and in my flesh I will see my God. (Job 19:25-26)Because in our lives, as in the life of the Church, Good Friday is always followed by Easter Sunday. Job knows, even in the midst of his suffering, that God exists. He knows his “Easter Sunday” will come.
In the words of the prophet Hosea:
For he hath taken us, and he will heal us: he will strike, and he will cure us. He will revive us after two days: on the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight. (Hosea 6:1-3)Apart from the fact that these verses are a prophecy of the Resurrection of Christ, they are also an expression of the prophet’s hope, just as Job’s words are his expression of hope.
We’re struggling; maybe we’re wrestling with the constant fear that our struggles are something that God has deliberately sent to us to teach us a lesson or to see how strong we are (God’s not like that); but our Easter Sunday will come.
God will heal us; He will cure us, and He will raise us up with His Son to rejoice with Him forever.
Because He has risen, and He is with us. And He will never, ever leave us in the darkness of Good Friday.
God Love Y’All!