Many people worry about growing old. When we are young, we cannot imagine getting old. We think that somehow, we will be exempt from the effects of aging. When the signs of aging appear, many people try to hide them. Then there is the dreaded question, “How old are you?”
FR. CHRISTOPHER SMITH CELEBRATES PALM SUNDAY MASS AT CHRIST CATHEDRAL ON MARCH 21, 2021. PHOTO BY STEVEN GEORGES/DIOCESE OF ORANGE
The celebration of Easter invites us to look at life in a completely different way. The Easter proclamation is that life is not about growing old, life is about growing new. Easter says that even though our bodies may grow old, our lives, spirits and world can always grow new. The declaration of Easter is that the resurrection of Jesus broke through the finality of physical death and destroyed the power of sin which deadens our spirits. The promise of Easter is new and everlasting life.
THE FAITHFUL ATTEND EASTER SUNDAY MASS CELEBRATED AT ST. MICHAEL’S ABBEY IN SILVERADO CANYON ON APRIL 17, 2022. PHOTO BY STEVEN GEORGES/DIOCESE OF ORANGE
As we grow older, living the message of Easter can be more challenging. Our physical bodies get ill and we have less energy. The difficult and painful experiences of life chip away at us. The longer we live in the world, the more we see its limits, its ugly side and its injustices.
Even so, in the midst of the many influences that may tell us otherwise, Easter proclaims that we really can grow new.
This Easter is an opportunity for each of us to ask ourselves where it is that we need to grow new. This is a great time to grow new in our relationship with God. If we have not come to church in a while, this Easter is the time. If participation at Mass has been off and on, how about building it in as a regular practice? Think of it as going to a spiritual gym every week. As with regularly exercising or going to the gym, we may not see the benefits immediately, but over time we notice a change. We notice a greater sense of peace. We notice a greater enthusiasm for life. We notice a softening of the heart.
Maybe we need to grow new with ourselves. Perhaps the time has come to toss aside that pile of negativity that has been building up inside of us. Maybe it is finally the moment to check out that pain in our leg or to do something about our blood pressure.
Perhaps we need to grow new in our relationships. It is possible that an attitude check is needed regarding our marriages, our families, our friendships. It may be time for that conversation with our spouse that we have been afraid to have. The cell phone stands ready for that long-delayed call to a friend.
Possibly, we need to grow new in our connection with the bigger world.
In the horrors of the war in Ukraine, the seeming endless gun violence and the ever-present natural disasters, the victims are our brothers and sisters in our common humanity. We may not be able to stop the wars, curb the violence or calm the storms. At the same time, we can grow new by doing something about the wars in our homes. We can silence the violence of our words. We can let Jesus calm us in order to face the storms.
Growing new means letting our best selves emerge again. Rebooting our old enthusiasm. Once more telling those silly jokes that used to make everybody laugh. Yet again lighting up a room with our smile. How about cooking that dish for which you used to be legendary? Singing in the shower again, or even in public, if you dare. Strumming the guitar long ago abandoned in the corner or tickling the ivories covered with dust. Let your inner artist emerge by making a card, crocheting a scarf, handcrafting a gift. The once revered handyman who has put off fixing the leaky faucet month after month could again take the wrench
in hand. Who knows, there are some among us who might even build a birdhouse.
The hope of Easter is that we can grow new even though illness, grief, tragedy, hurt and disappointments make us grow old. Certainly, the disciples of Jesus grew old through the agony of watching their beloved Jesus die so violently. Then they discovered His empty tomb and dared to believe that it was not over after
all. Not only was it not over, but it was also all NEW! On Easter 2023, we again profess the faith of those first disciples whose lives were made new by the resurrection of Jesus. How beautiful it will be to grow new together!