A Sense of the Season
First, we kept the forty days, with praying, fasting and giving alms.
Then we celebrated the three days of Christ's passion, dying and rising.
Now we delight in the fifty days, with rejoicing, feasting and giving witness!
The season of Easter is fifty days long. It is a time of unbridled joy, of exuberant rejoicing.
The church tells us, "The fifty days from Easter Sunday to Pentecost are celebrated in joyful exultation as one feast day, or better as one 'great Sunday.' These above all others are days for the singing of the Alleluia." (General Norms for the Liturgical Year and Calendar, #22)
Why is Eastertime fifty days?
The ancient cultures that gave us the Bible had great respect for numbers. They believed that numbers contained hints about God and the meaning of life. The number seven was thought to contain fullness: There are seven days in the week, according to God's original way of ordering time, creating all that there is and resting. So if you multiply 7 times 7, you have "fullness times fullness."
But wait! 7X7 is 49! With God, there is always moremore than we can ever imagine. So our holy season of Easter is even more than "fullness times fullness." It's "fullness times fullness" and then some: 7X7+1. That's what love is like: more than we can ever imagine. That's what heaven is going to be like: more than we can ever imagine.
The fifty days are days for looking for the risen Lord among us, for hearing in each other's stories of rising from the big and small deaths, days when we experience something of Christ's triumphs.
That's why we look to the newly baptized, robed in bright new clothes and oily with gladness: At Easter, they died and rose with Christ! Now they take their places with us.
Together, like the apostles who were so full of the Spirit that people thought they were drunk, we rush about with good and giddy news:
Death is not the last word! Life and love are forever! And slowly, painstakingly, we work together, together with Christ, to change this world into the world to come.
Text by David Philippart. .