Monday, 24 March 2008

A Living Word: Easter Week (I: Monday)

The Resurrection, Cookham, 1924-1927, Sir Stanley Spencer

Patrick Comerford

The first Sunday after Easter is often known in the Church as Low Sunday.

The first reason for this is because Holy Week and Easter represent the great climax of Christian faith. Whatever happens in churches in the weeks that follow takes a step or two back, and seems less important.

The second reason for calling it Low Sunday is that the attendance in churches was naturally high for Holy Week and Easter. The figures for Mass-going and church attendance in the following week always show a dramatic drop in numbers present.

In recent years, though, I’ve often thought that the figures were low even at Easter.

Christians in Ireland today are more likely to see ourselves as Christmas people rather than Easter people. Christmas has a nice, warm folksy feeling about it in the middle of winter. Easter has too much of a get-up-and-go challenge for us today. The crib is more comfortable than the cross. The manger in Bethlehem asks fewer questions than the grave outside the walls of Jerusalem.

When it comes to Holy Week and Easter, popular culture puts a greater emphasis on the shocking events of Holy Week than on the startling events of those days after Easter.

I only have to think about movies like Jesus Christ Superstar or the Passion of the Christ to have this perception reinforced.

Most people can tell me the Christmas story. Most people can recall the events in Holy Week that led up to Good Friday. But who among us can remember some of those wonderful stories in the Gospels in the days and weeks immediately after Easter?

I believe these are stories worth telling again and again.

This contribution to A Living Word was first broadcast on 24 March 2008 on RTÉ Radio 1. ‘A Living Word’ is broadcast Monday to Friday at 6:40 a.m. as part of Risin Time with Maxi and repeated Tuesday to Saturday at 12:58 a.m. as part of Late Date. A Living Word is Radio 1's long-standing two-minute daily meditation. The archives are available at:

http://www.rte.ie/radio1/alivingword/1179969.html