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I have always loved the Easter story about the disciples on the road to Emmaus. The disciples had hoped that Jesus of Nazareth was the prophet who was to redeem Israel, and yet, we all know how things ended. Their hopes were dashed. Jesus was put to death. While the disciples are sad and in mourning, Jesus meets them and questions them what they are talking about and what happened that caused them such sadness. Are these trick questions, one might ask. Why is Jesus hiding his true identity? It all eventually comes a full circle when the disciples finally recognize Jesus in the breaking of the bread. “Their eyes were opened” and they recognized him for who he really was.

As we celebrate this Easter, second Easter in a pandemic lockdown, we might sympathize with the disciples. We too have seen or experienced our share of sufferings – be it mental, physical, spiritual or economic. Many of us, I am sure, have prayed for God’s help to bring this pandemic to an end. And yet, we continue on a roller-coaster ride of press conferences from our civic and health leaders, new periods of lockdown restrictions, and disintegrating hopes of reaching a safe new normal.

We desperately need an Emmaus experience of our own. We need the risen Jesus to surprise us with his felt presence among us, to make our “hearts burn” with a newfound hope.

The Easter story tells us that we are not alone, God is very much with us, and he is very much on our side. If the pandemic restrictions made our immediate world seemingly smaller, our Easter faith expands our realm of possibilities. Do we believe that God can heal our sufferings? Do we believe that God works in his own time? How do we go on trusting when we are faced with a significant setback in life?

The gift of Easter is a stronger, deeper faith – a faith that believes that with God all things are truly possible. While we might be saddened by our inability to greet a newborn in our extended family with a warm hug, or grieved by our inability to hold vigil by the hospital bedside of a life-long friend, or disappointed once again by our inability to celebrate Easter with our families, we can still fully trust that God is walking alongside, wishes to heal our pain and fulfill our deepest heart-felt desires.

Our world and our lives have changed significantly in the past year. Along with the challenges, however, there were many blessings – slowing down to a more manageable pace in daily life, prioritizing family/home, enjoying more of the natural world around, purging unnecessary activities and commitments, simplifying our lives and freeing ourselves up. Many gifts came from the chaos. We may not have been able to recognize them immediately, and most certainly not while they were overshadowed by fears and anxieties of daily life and obligations. But it is fair to say that the broader framework of our lives and our society is essentially transforming – in a good way – even if at a slow and quiet pace.

This Easter, may we come to believe that our sufferings too are being redeemed. The Lord has risen indeed!

From our family of colleagues at Novalis and Living with Christ, we hope that you have a safe, blessed and joy-filled Easter!

Natalia Kononenko is the Editor of Living with Christ and the Seeds of Faith blog at Novalis Publishing. She has a Master of Divinity degree from Regis College and an Honours Bachelor of Arts in Christianity and Culture from University of St. Michael’s College (both at University of Toronto). Natalia loves to discover new saints, discuss faith and gather wisdom from people’s life stories.

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