Beliefnet
In conjunction with Pope John Paul II's recent tour of Israel, I visited Bethlehem and retraced Christ's final journey--from the place where Pontius Pilate condemned him to die, to Via Dolorosa, where he bore his own cross, to the site where he was hung, to the tomb where he rose from the dead. As I retraced the steps leading to Christ's crucifixion, I felt awakened to the truly beautiful possibilities of life.

These thoughts continue to dance through my head in the wake of Easter. For the celebration of Easter acts as a prism, giving glorious reflection to the daily drudgery of our lives while reminding us of the eternal glory that awaits us.

Dating back to the origins of Christianity itself, Easter is based in the belief that Jesus Christ rose from the dead in the days following his crucifixion and that, through his triumph over death, sin, and the devil, the gateway was opened for all believers to move on to the eternal kingdom of God. By remembering and reverencing the Resurrection, we, too, can identify with the sacred and the eternal.

Eastertime gives us a reprise from our everyday, egocentric concerns. It speaks to our origin and our destiny. Its worship allows us to participate in the idea of a future kingdom of peace. The celebration of Easter transcends our daily routine precisely because it evokes the eternal striving in all of us.

The idea of the eternal captures our imagination. It's a fixture in our popular culture; television shows like "Touched by an Angel," to "Highlander," and "Hercules" succeed because they allow us to vicariously transcend the dull expansion of time.

Now, let's say for a moment that you're a gambler. You're unsure about whether you believe in God, whether you can grasp the eternal. The question is, what have you got to lose by living a virtuous and honorable life that embraces the commandments?

The obvious answer is that you have nothing to lose, but the eternal to gain. The opportunity exists for you to lift your eyes after death and make it into eternal life.

On the other hand, if you've lived a life of recklessness and you lift your eyes after death, you'll have spent your life readying your soul only for eternal damnation. The point is that you have nothing to lose by betting on God.

Now, consider for a moment the misery of those who don't embrace the eternal kingdom of God during their time on Earth. Such people muddle about in a state of perpetual instability. They lack an absolute moral point of reference. Without this foundation, they merely live from whim to whim, finding enjoyment only in fleeting moments of beauty. This is as true of the criminal as of the atheist. Someone without a sense of God's eternal kingdom is only half free, and will always be a slave to loneliness.

Easter, with its emphasis on the eternal, reminds to ask important questions: If we devote our passions to physical beauty, what happens when that beauty vanishes? If we spin our lives around material objects, what happens when these objects crumble? If we place our faith in a loved one, what happens when that loved one dies? It's only when we place our faith in God that we create for ourselves an immutable foundation. It's only then that we have an absolute moral reference point that fixes our lives with meaning.

As we reflect on this past Easter, let's take a moment and not only recall our recent sins but also the eternal kingdom that awaits us. Isn't it amazing that you can live forever in heaven?

The one thing we're all going to do is leave here. Give God and his timeless commandments a try and see what happens. After all, every saint has a past but, thank God, all of us sinners have a future.

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