Most people think of Easter as a single day. It’s never had the commercial appeal of Christmas, and because it always falls on Sunday, most people don’t get an additional day off from work. But for Catholics, Easter isn’t just a day, it’s a whole season. This year, the Easter season stretches all the way to May 19th, the feast of Pentecost. Lent, which some times feels like it’s stretching on forever, is actually forty days long. Easter, on the other hand, is all of fifty days long.
At masses all through the Easter season, our usual practice of reading from the Old Testament is replaced by reading from the Acts of the Apostles. These readings tell the story of the Church’s earliest days, and the beginnings of our faith’s spreading throughout the ancient world. These stories of heroism, controversies, persecutions and miracles all testify to the continued presence of the Risen Christ in the world, through the lives of his disciples, and the actions of the Holy Spirit.
All of this should be an encouragement and a sign of hope for us today. Despite war, violence, personal struggles, and an under-performing economy, God has not abandoned us, nor left us to our own devices. The Risen Savior is still with us. These 50 days of Easter ask us to reflect on his presence, and—even in the face of danger or fear—to live with joy.