The Year without an Easter Bunny

04-12-2020Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

It’s the year without an Easter Bunny! Recall the book and the film “The Year without a Santa Claus”, when Santa wakes up with a cold sometime before Christmas. His doctor, who thinks nobody cares about him anymore, advises him to make some changes to his routine, so Santa decides to take a holiday instead of delivering gifts. A big part of the story is to find out whether or not people are too skeptical to care about Santa anymore. Eventually one young boy is found who tells a disguised Santa, “I believe in Santa like I believe in love”.  Finally, things turn around and the world’s children send gifts to Santa.

Well things certainly got turned around this year and the risk we face is a loss of belief, not in Santa or the Easter Bunny but in God’s providential care for the world. It is easy enough to grow skeptical and even cynical in the face of the Pandemic. Not just for the sick and dead but for the great uncertainty about the future. When circumstances change for the worse our faith can begin to wane. What makes it more acute is that we are not able to gather and celebrate the great mysteries of our Faith which when we do, reminds us of the overarching plan of God for history. Our common worship also helps situate ourselves in context of the larger picture of how God uses the twist and turns of history to draw us closer to Himself.

This virus has its objectives. Those objectives are not benevolent. The virus does not seek our flourishing but its own flourishing. The objectives of the virus are manifold. Obviously, it has health/medical objectives to infect as many as possible in order to have hosts in which it can thrive. Its health objective would be doubly successful if it can infect medical providers and take them off line. The social objectives include trying its best to have us prematurely return to normal so that it can spread itself in large groups. The financial objectives of the virus are to bring us to bankruptcy and destitution to the point we no longer care if we become its victim.

And there is still the spiritual objective of the virus. Just like in the film, “The Year without a Santa Claus” when Santa comes down with a bad cold and Christmas is cancelled, this Year without an Easter Bunny, the Easter Bunny has Covid-19 and Easter is cancelled. Is this the year that belief in God and Church and religious practice are declared forever irrelevant?  

Except is it? In the end, in the film, “The Year without a Santa Claus”, Christmas does come, albeit in a way that is even more true than the normal celebration. Christmas becomes a real time of giving and not receiving. Well, for us, Easter has come, Christ is still Risen from the dead. The children in the story send Santa gifts and their outpouring and generosity cause Santa to get on his sleigh and make Christmas happen after all. Will faith continue to arise from God’s people? Will we continue to witness, despite the present, that He holds the future in His hands?

May our outpouring of love to Christ for His sacrifice, despite our reduced circumstances, be bigger and more sincere than ever. And may it please God to come to us again with the power of the Resurrection to allow His objectives for the human family to flourish beyond our imagining.

Christmas still comes when there are no gifts under the tree. Easter still happens when there are no people in the pews. At the end of the film, Mrs. Claus declares, “yearly, newly, faithfully and truly, Santa always comes.”

Yes yearly, newly, faithfully and truly, Christ is Risen!

Happy Easter, still.

Love,

Fr. John B.

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