Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

The invitation that is Easter

By FATHER JAMES S. BEHRENS, OCSO, Commentary | Published April 2, 2015

Normally we think of an invitation in a limited number of ways. There are wedding invitations, party invitations and gala dinner invitations.

These come almost always printed on expensive stationery and are enclosed with RSVP’s. Such invitations are sent out to announce a highly significant event in the life of the sender, an event of great joy and a desire to share that joy. Unfortunately, human resources are forever limited. We all know that banquet halls and churches just have so much space. And there are just so many dollars that we can afford to spend on our friends and loved ones. And, finally, we can take just so much of the gonzo banquet scene. Too many deplete our energies, our wallets, our calendars.

It is Easter time, and we are asked by this wondrous feast to think outside of the box as best we can. The “asking” comes to us from God, and it comes in the form of an invitation. We are asked to gaze at an empty tomb, very early on Easter morning, and to see it as an invitation to life, to all of life and to enter the light of that morning and to live life to the fullest extent possible. It is life that is given to us through the Resurrection of Jesus. His rising from the dead was not and is not a solitary event. The power that raised him is raising us as well, pouring the gift of life into us, enabling us to live, laugh, walk, run, hope, desire.

The invitation is limitless. Everybody is invited, by reason of their being born, into this life and experience time and all that it brings as a son or daughter of God.

During the course of one of our recent retreats here at the monastery, the participants raised questions about the why’s of suffering, the seeming aloofness of God in the face of human pain and loss, the mystery of the relationship between Jesus and a Father who allowed him to suffer. I do not have any pat answers to such questions. No matter all the eloquently phrased poems, books and the like that I have read on human and divine relations when it comes to suffering, I think I will always be in the dark when it comes to understanding what we can inflict upon each other and what, if anything, God has to do with it.

But there is the tomb, the open invitation that is Easter, an invitation to follow the Risen Lord into the days and years that lie ahead. There will be problems and some terrible, agonizing events. Not much, if indeed anything at all, will turn out according to human hopes and human designs. Something else is at play, something beyond our grasp to manipulate or control. The world is full of joy and sorrow, but it is also filled with grace, with the power of life. The invitation that is Easter calls us all to take each day and to walk through it step by step, being of help to each other as best we can. One more powerful and kind has gone before us and calls to us to come, come to a place where there is room for everyone, and there are budget-less banquets and an eternity to rest.

Easter is a call to life.

And there is an RSVP—a willingness to trust that call and to live.

Trappist Father James Stephen Behrens is a monk at the Monastery of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit in Conyers. His books are available at the monastery web store at