Sunrise over my backyard on Easter morning gave me pause. I woke up at 6:10 and decided to “bedroll” it over to the North Campus for Fr. Pat’s sunrise service. I think mass should have been moved to my swampy backyard because I had a much better view of the sunrise. Regardless, it was a wonderful celebration.

Our Easter Vigil at St. Joe’s welcomed 14 new Catholics and 4 newly baptized. A snip from last night’s confirmations.

The joy of Easter reminds me that we are often like the two disciples on the road to Emmaus (this morning’s gospel). We want to continue to follow Jesus but we get confounded and Christ is hidden from our eyes. We fail to follow the risen Jesus and instead harken back to the cross where we crucify ourselves with bad choices and things that we think will satisfy us but ultimately fail to do so.

Last night, after the Easter Vigil I ran into a bright young woman who sees me for spiritual direction. She spent the vigil in tears and said that she’s decided to finally “lay her cross down and live in the light of the Resurrection.” Her words, not mine. We all should do the same. What is it on our roads that keep us looking back and not realizing that Christ is walking with us, offering us more than we could ever want or even perceive? What tempts us to keep looking back, away from that glorious sunrise where the light fills the sky with colors beyond beautiful? Where is God beckoning to us to come and live in the light of day that will always destroy the dark forces of our fears? How can we more be people of the Eucharist, standing as one body and receiving Christ in this breaking of the bread and become more alive than before because we need to become what it is that we receive?

If we are an Easter people, then we merely need to turn towards that light and leave our crosses behind. Whatever weighs us down and keeps us nailed to sin is what we have tried to purge ourselves of throughout these 40 days of lenten time. If we have fasted from something did we find that we really needed it after all? When we prayed did we find that spending time with God was an opportunity to clear out the cobwebs and connect with what really gave us new insights? When we offered alms did we find that peaceful grace that it takes to truly give without wanting anything in return?

For myself, clearing out the clutter of not merely 40 but 50 days taught me that there are a lot of things in my way that keep me from truly being free and walking with Jesus. Giving away the clutter, (not so someone else might be tripped up by it, but so someone else might be inspired to use my clutter for good) allows me to more squarely focus on who I really am and what I really need. I lost 13 pounds this lent and gained a lot of muscle. I’m feeling better for the first time in a long time and have vowed to keep that going with the help of Ben, my trainer. More importantly, I thought giving away something for 50 days was going to be hard. The truth is that there is plenty more to give away. The hard part was selecting who I wanted to bless with the gift of something that was good for me at one time, but now has run its course. I spent over $100 in postage yesterday sending most of the gifts out and it was money well spent. I may just keep giving things away once a week beyond this practice as it has served to keep me honest with myself.

“Do I want it, or do I need it?” A refrain that Amy Vukelic, our coordinator of the Catholic Volunteers often asks of those she serves to offer to everything that is placed before us. I’d add a second question: “If I want this, what will it take me away from? Family? Friends? Christ?”

If he is risen, then we need to rise beyond the usual claptrap of distractions and into the centered peace of the resurrection. We must pay attention to the stone that no longer locks us into the tomb but rather has released us from sin and death. We are free. We choose Christ. We serve others.

Can we be free enough this Easter season to truly give all that we are to Christ?

I hope so, because Jesus Christ is risen today–and he gave all of Himself to each one of us.