A Christian’s foundational identity is founded upon great and indescribable joy: The joy of being called by the Lord; the profound joy of being called and fully redeemed by the Lord; the unspeakable joy that the Lord by His cross and Resurrection has conquered all sin, evil, and death; the joy that is found in the knowledge that we who are of great worth in the Lord, have been ransomed from a debt that we cannot pay; the joy that is found in the hope that the Lord God has never left us, and will continue to be beside us.

Immediately after the Resurrection, Jesus meets the disciples where they are. It is the Lord who seeks out his disciples. He reaches out first, and offers reconciliation. In John’s Gospel, Jesus goes to the disciples who have locked themselves into the upper room, out of fear of persecution(John 20:19).

Later, Jesus encounters Thomas and Peter, who are struggling with the Resurrection and its implications: Thomas doubts and Peter is in need of knowing Jesus’ love for him after his betrayals.

Jesus, however is not interested in the past, much less to blame his disciples for abandoning him, or to scold them about what could have been done better. Instead, Jesus offers peace, reconciliation, and mission.

Easter joy is thus as simple and as difficult as this: That we are loved, we are forgiven, and now having witnessed, we are now to proclaim that indeed the Lord lives, even more so in times of suffering, when the world needs to hear this reassuring truth.

How can we spread Easter joy? We practise what the Lord did: faithfulness, forgiveness, simplicity, selfless giving and loving, and we pass them on.

St. John Chrysostom writes in his Easter Pascha homily, “Let all Pious men and all lovers of God rejoice in the splendour of this feast; let the wise servants blissfully enter into the joy of their Lord; let those who have borne the burden of Lent now receive their pay, and those who have toiled since the first hour, let them now receive their due reward; let any who came after the third hour be grateful to join in the feast, and those who may have come after the sixth, let them not be afraid of being too late, for the Lord is gracious and He receives the last even as the first. He gives rest to him who comes on the eleventh hour as well as to him who has toiled since the first: yes, He has pity on the last and He serves the first; He rewards the one and is generous to the other; he repays the deed and praises the effort.”

St John Chrysostom continues, “Come you all: enter into the joy of your Lord. You the first and you the last, receive alike your reward; you rich and you poor, dance together; you sober and you weaklings, celebrate the day; you who have kept the fast and you who have not, rejoice today. The table is richly loaded: enjoy its royal banquet. The calf is a fatted one: let no one go away hungry. All of you enjoy the banquet of faith; all of you receive the riches of his goodness.

Let no one grieve over his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed; let no one weep over his sins, for pardon has shone from the grave; let no one fear death, for the death of our Saviour has set us free.”

While St. Athanasius exhorts in his festal letters, “Again, my brethren, is Easter come and gladness; again the Lord has brought us to this season; so that when, according to custom, we have been nourished with His words, we may duly keep the feast. Let us celebrate it then, even heavenly joy, with those saints who formerly proclaimed a like feast, and were ensamples to us of conversation in Christ. For not only were they entrusted with the charge of preaching the Gospel, but, if we enquire, we shall see, as it is written, that its power was displayed in them. ‘Be you therefore followers of me,’ he wrote to the Corinthians. Now the apostolic precept exhorts us all, for those commands which he sent to individuals, he at the same time enjoined upon every man in every place, for he was ‘a teacher of all nations in faith and truth.’

Easter joy thus is not limited to a select few, but we are exhorted by the virtue of our Baptism to go forth and let the world know of this great joy.

Some ways that we can spread Easter joy in our current stay-at-home situation:

1.Write letters of exhortation containing glad tidings and the Good News of Easter and send them out to the people we know, and those whom we have only cursorily kept in touch with by post.

2.This time of pandemic is a time of great fear and want. Many families and elderly need basic groceries and are struggling to make ends meet. Obtain with the beneficiary’s permission, the address of a beneficiary from the Church or in your neighbourhood community, and adopt that person or family. Via an online delivery service, help deliver food and groceries to that person’s house.

3.Gather online with a community of faith to break the Word together, encourage each other, and pray together.

4.If you have these ingredients on hand, bake some hot cross buns, or cookies, and seal them in a ziplock bag. Hang these on the door grilles of your neighbours with a note asking about their well being and signed by you.

5.Create care packages and send them to the frontline staff, working in essential services, or at the hospitals, hospices, and clinics.

6.The social services are still servicing the poor, the disenfranchised, and the needy. Work with the Charity of your choice to volunteer, and to donate to help with their operations and maintenance costs.

7.Stay-at-home and Work-from-home could be triggers for loneliness and depression. Check in regularly with your colleagues and co-workers to let them know that there is someone for them and that they are not alone.

8.Some children and youth may not have safe homes to stay-at-home at, consider to open your homes and be a temporary foster care facility/foster parent if you qualify for the criteria.

9.Prayer is a spiritual embrace and is itself, work. Use this time to intercede on behalf of others.

10.Joy can be spread simply in our every day – giving a smile as you are queueing up for your groceries while practising safe distancing, for example.

As Pope Francis reminds us, “Joy does not mean living from laugh to laugh. No, it’s not that. Joy is not entertainment. No, it’s not that. It is something else. Christian joy is peace, peace that is deeply rooted, peace in the heart, the peace that only God can give. This is Christian joy. It is not easy to foster this joy,” and “Joy, consolation: this is our breath as Christians.”

Let us be that breath of joy to others this Easter.


By Brian Bartholomew Tan

Sources: The Early Church Fathers and Other Works , Vatican News, When the Church Was Young: Voices of the Early Fathers, Ante-Nicene Fathers, Loyola Press