Springtime is stirring (we hope!) in north Georgia. The dark rainy days of winter are slowly slipping away into memory and every day sees new blooms in our gardens and the woods around us. A thousand shades of green will soon blanket the hills and ridges as sleeping buds burst forth to find the sun. I know how they feel. I’m feeling that same longing for the new life of spring, too. These weeks of Lent prepare us for the true Light of Easter. We’ve been walking to Jerusalem with our Lord, through the good times He’s shared with His friends and now as we will be with Him through His Passion and the Cross of Good Friday. Spring is about changes and new beginnings. And change is painful.

But change is also hopeful. A new beginning opens a world of possibilities. For me, writing is like that. I’m old-fashioned and use a pen and paper writing everything in longhand. Sitting down with a blank white page in front of me is at once a gift and a burden. I can write whatever words I want to write and that’s a marvelous gift. But that freedom brings with it the burden of choosing which words to write and in what order and for what purpose. This is very much what Easter is for us as well. The sacrifice of the Cross opens heaven for us again. After original sin entered the world through our first parents, a gulf of separation kept us from knowing God as He created us to know Him. He wanted to be in an intimate relationship with each one of us, every moment of every day. So He had to build a bridge from His throne to our hearts. And He imagined that bridge in the form of a Cross. A simple wooden cross that would reach from the depths of our sins to the heights of heaven.

The hope of the Cross of Christ is our greatest gift. Through Him, we have the new life we long for–here and for all eternity in heaven. But the joy of the resurrection comes with the exquisite price of Golgotha. Easter is meaningless without Good Friday. In our culture, we often skip anything that smacks of sacrifice or suffering. We want to get straight to joy and happiness. But one look at the life of Jesus shows us how we are to live. And no time in His life is more revealing than this week. He spends time with His friends. He spends time in prayer. He helps those around Him with what they need. He keeps His heart open and His eyes fixed on Friday. He is motivated by one thing and one thing only: love. As we journey towards this Easter Sunday, how well do our lives reflect the hope of Jesus’ gift of the Cross? Like Christ, do we live a life full of prayer and service to others? Are we open to helping those around us when they need help? Does love motivate the decisions we make? If you’re like me, you probably have a ways to to. And that’s exactly when Jesus loves us most—when we still have a ways to go and we choose to make that journey with Him.

If you’ve been away from Christ, today is the perfect day to come home to Him. He’s waiting for you in the sacrament of confession. He’s waiting for you in the celebration and sacrifice of the Holy Mass. He’s waiting to give you the hope and the joy that He purchased for you on the Cross. Spring is the season of new life and light. Christ is calling you to return to Him and receive the new life that only He can offer.

“Even now,’ declares the Lord, ‘return to Me with all your heart..”—Joel 2:12

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