I was recently given the unique opportunity to attend the opening mass for the Antilles Episcopal Conference, a meeting for all the bishops from French, English and Dutch territories, except Haiti, of the Caribbean. To show how big of a deal this is, there were 26 bishops there, one cardinal and a papal nuncio (Ambassador for the Catholic Church) .
The mass was packed; the pews spilling over with so many people. I had to stand at the beginning, but extra seats were eventually brought in. In contrast, I attended the Chrism Mass, which is a mass to bless the oil used to bring the new people into the Church on Easter. There were only about 50 to 60 people during the Chrism mass, so this conference was well attended.
One of the best parts of the mass was the homily given by Most Rev. Roberts Llanos, the Auxiliary Bishop of Port of Spain, the capital city of Trinidad and Tobago. He spoke about how we celebrate Lent and Easter.
We celebrate Lent by giving up things in our lives, like coffee or chocolate, or adding them, like praying more frequently.
We do physical things in our lives to be more like Jesus, who fasted in the desert for 40 days and nights. After the 40 days of Lent and sacrifice we celebrate Easter Sunday and then allow ourselves to resume our pre-Lent lives. But we often forget Easter lasts for 50 days!
We are celebrating Jesus rising from the dead and appearing to the disciples for the 50 days before the Holy Spirit descends upon the disciples.
Sometimes the disciples don’t see him, like on the road to Ammasi where he walks with two of his disciples and only after he blesses the food do the disciples recognize him. When he does reveal himself they think he is a ghost, until they touch his wounds and they believe.
This is what the Most Rev. Roberts was talking about. In these 50 days we should open our eyes and hearts to Jesus so that he may transforms our lives, that Jesus may call us from our mundane lives and bring about our rebirth into his loving arms.
So in these 50 days, celebrate his return. For through him we can be saved; for we are on a pilgrimage and our lives are meant to change, as long as your heart is open to God’s plan.