In November 1986, St. John Paul II visited various places in the South Pacific. In a message he gave during the Sunday Angelus prayers at Adelaide, Australia, the Pope said, “We are an Easter People and Alleluia is Our Song!” You can find that message and the quote on the Vatican website. Numerous writers claim John Paul II is the author of that saying. It’s also been reported that St. Augustine of Hippo first came up with the same expression in the 5th century. However, scholars tell us that expression was not St. Augustine’s style! And if you are into fashion, check the internet where you will find numerous options of clothing and home furnishings with the slogan “We are an Easter People and Alleluia is Our Song!”
Alleluia is certainly an appropriate word at Easter since it is a word of praise for the great mystery of the Resurrection of our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. It is because of that great mystery of faith that we can say: “We are an Easter People.” At the same time, we do not pretend that life is limited to happiness and beauty. We are aware of darkness and sin, poverty and death, war and human suffering around the world.
But we also know and believe that Jesus has conquered sin and passed through his own pain and death to the glory of the Resurrection. We live in the light of his Paschal Mystery – the mystery of his Death and Resurrection. As an Easter people, we don’t try to ignore the presence of sin, which drains the joy out of our hearts. As an Easter people we look to the Risen Christ who proclaimed, “I am the resurrection and the life; the one who believes in me will live, even if he dies” (John 11:25).
As an Easter People, we are not looking for a shallow joy that comes from a catchy slogan. Our lasting joy comes from faith that grows through an unselfish love that respects the fundamental duty of love of neighbor, even when it means putting their wants and needs before our own. Of course that way of life involves sacrifice.
As an Easter People we are reminded that the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross is what makes it possible for us to appreciate what St. Paul said in his letter to the Hebrews (12:2), “For the sake of the joy that lay before him, Jesus endured the cross.” Jesus knew what was coming, and through faith, so do we. The sufferings of this world are nothing compared to the glories that are to come for those who believe in Jesus Christ.
We are an Easter People expresses who and what we are to be. It reminds us of the limitless power of love that was manifested by Christ in his suffering and death, and in his resurrection. Share that power with others, not just on an Easter card, but in everything you do and say.
With prayers and best wishes during this joyful Easter season,