My local rugby team here in Austin runs a “chat” thread on Facebook.. The other day, one of my mates raised the question: “Is Easter Over?” I must confess that this is not the typical type of posting that ends up on a rugby Facebook chat thread. Mind you, I play rugby with the finest group of upstanding gentlemen….well…I play rugby with them.
The question caught me a bit off guard. The reality is that my club had a Sunday match after Easter with a sparse turn-out of supporters and it was suggested the sparse turn-out was due to some extended Sunday Easter activities. Remember, fine upstanding gentlemen! BUT, it is a good question: Is Easter Over?
Fifty Day Transition Period to Pentecost
Those Christians mindful of the liturgical calendar know that the Easter season does not end until May 23rd this year of 2015. The season is marked by fifty days leading up until Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit descends upon the Upper Room and initiates the church. Those fifty days were busy for the disciples, and probably a bit overwhelming. As if the whole incarnation thing wasn’t hard enough to comprehend when Jesus was living, having him walk around after his death had to have been stressful to deal with and comprehend.
Is it any less difficult today to comprehend, despite what we might say or admit?
The Easter season is a gift from God. The disciples didn’t have to accept the Christ cold turkey. Jesus appeared many times to help them understand and embrace the miraculous resurrection. God took time to soften hearts and to strengthen them again, to build understanding, to break down old perceptions and to introduce a new perspective of God. Had Pentecost happened in the week directly after Christ’s resurrection, it might not have been an act of imposition upon the disciples, at that time, as they were not yet prepared emotionally or spiritually to accept the events that had just happened. God could have made them believe, but that is not how God tends to act. I imagine by the time of Pentecost, the disciple were in a better space emotionally, spiritually, and physically, to embrace the task God had for them, open now to the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
What About Us?
Guess what! We don’t have to accept the resurrection cold turkey as well. Nor do our students for that matter. God does not impose upon our hearts, but rather softens them so that we might recognize and choose God. We have the gift of the Incarnated Christ, as a means to learn about and grow in our understanding of the fullness of God’s love for us. The heart needs time to acquire knowledge of God, and the brain needs time to grow in love with God. That is good news as each of us are wired differently. Like in any relationship, it takes time…a lifetime of living!
So, as we walk with our students, wanting for them to know the love that God has for them, we know while there is always a sense of urgency, we also know that God’s love for us is an invitation as well. I am told it takes six weeks to make a permanent change in one’s life. That would be just about fifty days. Maybe God had that in mind in the timing of Pentecost.
Let us use this Easter season to understand the breathe of the Incarnation so that we will be ready for each invitation God extends our way. May we help our students know this inner calling from God as well.
Dr. James Puglisi is the Associate Director of Campus Ministry at St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas. He received his Bachelor of Arts (1984) from Allegheny College, Meadville, PA in Anthropology of Religions. He holds a Master of Arts in Higher Education (1996) from Geneva College, Beaver Falls, PA, and a Master of Arts in Applied Theology (2002) from Wheeling Jesuit University. He was awarded a Doctor of Ministry from Catholic Theological Union (2008) in the area of Practical Theology. His doctoral writing was titled “Shalom: The Role of Truth Telling in Creating Communities of Racial Reconciliation within Institutions of Christian Higher Education.” He is actively involved in interfaith and ecumenical work at St. Edward’s University and in the larger Austin Community. In addition to his work in campus ministry, he teaches courses in the cultural foundations curriculum in the area of migration, culture, and diversity. He has presented at conferences on racial reconciliation and inter-religious dialogue. He is originally from Pittsburgh, PA.