Reflection for March, 2018

The Colors of Spring

As we walk past stationery stores these days, and even when we visit the local supermarket, we can hardly ignore the commercial preparations for Easter.  Bright, pastel colors invite us to rejoice that the dark days of winter are finally giving way – at least in the Northern hemisphere – to the longer and brighter days of spring.  Green is to be the prevailing color of these Easter preparations, and Easter baskets overflow with “Easter grass” in every shade of green.  But as we look at our yards undergoing their annual renewal, green may be far less prevalent than red.  Peonies, when their shoots break through the frosty ground, are a deep, almost purple hue, as is the new growth of rosebushes.   The first, tiny leaves of trees and shrubs are generally a lighter shade, but the color, on the whole, is unmistakably red.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote:

Earth’s crammed with heaven
And every common bush afire with God;
But only he who sees takes off his shoes,
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.

This is only to say God gave us the world as a textbook, and the colors that begin to greet us in these days of Lent invite us to consider that the gay colors of Easter evolve from far more somber hues, just as the glory of Our Savior’s Resurrection dawns only after the world is shrouded in darkness on Good Friday.

The darkness we associate with Christ’s agony on Good Friday is an appropriate illustration of our human hearts, so darkened by sin that we could invent the horror of Calvary.  The red that greets us as we watch our world put forth its new shoots is a similar reminder that Christ purchased the joyful hues of Easter at the price of His blood.  The gospel is a story told about us, and as we make our pilgrimage through these days of Lent, the Evangelists remind us we may not be passive observers of these changes in the landscape.

At the beginning of his very moving book on the priesthood, The Priest Is Not His Own, the Venerable Fulton Sheen observes

If we at Mass eat and drink the Divine Life and bring no death of our own to incorporate into the death of Christ through sacrifice, we deserve to be thought of as parasites on the Mystical Body of Christ.  Shall we eat bread and give no wheat to be ground?  Shall we drink wine and give no grapes to be crushed?

As Our Savior makes his journey to Jerusalem and Calvary, He invites us to identify those areas of our lives in need of His grace and healing.  Our liturgical participation in Jesus’ Last Supper, His passion and death on Good Friday, and the anticipation-filled hours of Holy Saturday call us to acknowledge and confess our sins, so that at Easter we may renew the promises of our Baptism with a sincere commitment to carrying Christ’s light to the world.

May we all enjoy a Blessed Lent and a Joyous Easter!