From the moment we walk into church today, we KNOW something wonderful has happened. We can see it and we can feel it. There are signs of new life. The Lenten purple and starkness are replaced with bright colors and flowers. The vestments are white and alleluias are everywhere. The church is crowded and the kids are excited. There is a buzz in the air saying This is the day the Lord has made! Let us rejoice and be glad! But, what happens when Mass is over and we’ve gone home; when the Easter ham and dessert are finished; when the company has left, and we begin to get ready for the routine of the week ahead? Do we really understand the significance of the day and what it means to our lives? Because without Easter, Christmas would just be another pagan holiday in December to celebrate the winter solstice.
Easter remembers the very foundation of Christianity: Jesus is raised from the dead and He is God. Those who believe share in a resurrection to new life. Today is so significant that we continue to celebrate the Easter Season for the next fifty days until God sends His Advocate to us, the Holy Spirit, on Pentecost. It was only natural for the very first followers of Jesus to hold this moment sacred, to celebrate and re-experience Jesus had risen and will always be with them.
His death occurred on the most important of all Jewish feasts: the Passover. His resurrection fulfilled all that the Passover had meant to them as Jews. It was an exodus, or passage, from the old times and oppression of slavery to spiritual freedom. Jesus was the Paschal Lamb (Pasch, from Hebrew Pesach, meaning “Passover”) slain and sacrificed to achieve this freedom. Jesus’ resurrection was the sign of the beginning of a New Covenant with God. A Covenant which frees us from the slavery of worldly wants, and promises us happiness. Happiness through spiritual growth from our sufferings, while being content with the blessings He has given us and sharing them with others.
What is Easter all about? It’s about our Christian roots and celebrating what Jesus did for us. As the Exsultet decrees on Easter Vigil “THIS IS THE NIGHT, WHEN CHRIST BROKE THE PRISON BARS OF DEATH, AND ROSE VICTORIOUS FROM THE UNDERWORLD. OUR BIRTH WOULD HAVE BEEN NO GAIN, HAD WE NOT BEEN REDEEMED!”
May you have a blessed and joyous Easter Season!