Easter Sunday • Year A

Paul W. Galetto, O.S.A.
Church of St. Paul
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Acts 10:34a, 37-43
Ps 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23
Col 3:1-4, or 1 Cor 5:6b-8
Jn 20:1-9

The story is told of a fifth grade student who became engrossed in a science experiment. His class was studying the world around them and in particular, butterflies. Several cocoons had been collected and were being eagerly watched.

One lunch period our little fifth grade student noticed that a butterfly was about to break its chrysalis and emerge from its cocoon. The boy sat and watched in amazement as the miracle of life unfolded before him. He saw the antennae. He noted with awe how the head emerged. As more and more of the soon-to-be-butterfly appeared, he had no concern that he himself was missing his own lunch.

At one point, however, he saw the emerging butterfly begin to struggle. It looked as if this creature was not going to make it. The chrysalis was too restrictive and the butterfly could not emerge. It was suffering and he wanted to intervene. The student decided to help by chipping away at its cocoon. Within seconds the butterfly emerged, but something was terribly amiss.

The teacher soon arrived in the room and asked the young naturalist what was happening. The student explained to the teacher what had happened and how he had intervened in the process. When they both looked at the butterfly, they noticed that its wings had not materialized and that the lower portion of its body was deformed.

The student of life learned from the teacher that it was necessary for the butterfly to struggle and suffer during its emergence from the cocoon. During that struggle, the butterfly’s majestic wings are formed. What appeared to the boy as pain and suffering was nothing more than the normal way butterflies are born.

We have all heard the phrase, “No pain, no gain.” This is the lesson of Easter. No one of us wants to see pain for the sake of pain, but the pain earns us our wings. We emerge from our cocoons. We are transformed.

Back in 2005, the great witness of the final days of St. John Paul II was that there is a value to pain and suffering. We do not discard the elderly because they are weakened. We do not euthanize the weak and disabled among us. Our pain and suffering have value. There is no love without sacrifice. Love emerges from the cocoon of life in moments of struggle. If we wish to intervene as the student did, if we seek to banish suffering and pain from our lives, we, too, will be misshapen because we will be loveless. We develop our wings in the challenges of life; we can fly, indeed, we can soar once we have known and lived love – the Resurrection moment in our lives.

The suffering and death of Jesus on Good Friday had to take place for there to be a Resurrection. The lesson of this Easter Sunday is that all pain, all suffering, all sorrow can be transformed to new life. This power of transformation has been given to us by our God who is Love. It is up to us to accept the challenge that lies before us. Let us rise with our Lord to newness of life and love.