April 24, 2021

Easter Signals a Homecoming for All

by Raymond Langford

Once upon a time, it was a tradition for one of the big three television networks to broadcast “The Wizard of Oz” on Easter Sunday night. As a child, it was something I looked forward to
every year, along with Easter baskets, attending a sunrise church service, and an egg hunt in the afternoon. Even now, the movie—first released in 1939— reminds me of home, which is appropriate, because after you brush away the trappings of travel by tornado, a city made of emeralds, and a talking scarecrow, “The Wizard of Oz” is a homecoming story.

A young girl trying to find her way home takes a long journey down a yellow brick road seeking assistance. After numerous Hollywood-style perils, Dorothy, played by Judy Garland, ultimately discovers that she had the power to return home all along but didn’t know it. That, to me, is the message of Easter: the Church’s collective homecoming after the dark journey
through Lent.

Celebrating Christ’s Resurrection reminds us that we have a home with God, not only in a gauzy afterlife,
but in the here and now. We just have to open ourselves to experiencing it. With that, of course, comes
the call to help others experience it as well, to be God’s hands and feet in the world. Few of us today are called to give our lives in the way that early Christians did, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make a difference.

After all, Jesus was bringing God’s love to the people of his day long before his Death on the Cross—bytwim-2-19-facebook-image-3
healing the sick, by socializing with the outcasts, and by welcoming children to his side. This is also what Pope Francis is asking of us in the Year of Mercy.
All such acts of love bring a redemptive experience, a taste of home, which a speaker at my New York City church recently described as the place where people know you and love you anyway.

“In every human situation, marked by frailty, sin and death, the Good News is no mere matter of words, but a testimony to unconditional and faithful love,” Pope Francis said in his 2014 Easter address. “It is about leaving ourselves behind and encountering others, being close to those crushed by life’s troubles, sharing with the needy, standing at the side of the sick, elderly and the outcast.”

As we answer that call, giving our time, attention, and compassion to those around us, we can remember
and give thanks for all the people who have done the same for us, helping us experience—even for a brief
moment—our divine home, our Easter, our joy. John of Damascus, an eighth-century saint, says it well in words that were set to music more than 1,000 years after his death:
“Now let the heavens be joyful, let earth her song begin, the round world keep high triumph, and all that is therein . . . let all things seen and unseen their notes together blend, for Christ the Lord is risen, our joy that hath no end.”

 

Langford is a freelance writer. He lives in New York City.

This article was originally published on Catholic News Service’s Faith Alive!
Copyright © 2016, Catholic News Service–United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, DC. All rights reserved.

Quotes from Pope Francis copyright © 2014, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Vatican City State. All rights reserved.