The Resurrection of Jesus Christ, our Lord
Easter Sunday or Easter Vigil is the day when even the poorest church is embellished with its best ornaments, it is the peak of the liturgical year. It is the anniversary of Christ’s triumph. It is the happy ending of the drama of the Passion and the immense joy that follows pain. And pain and joy that merge because they refer to the most important event in the history of humanity: the redemption and liberation of the sin of humanity by the Son of God.
St Paul tells us: “He who has risen Jesus Christ will also bring life back to our mortal bodies.” The greatness of Christian Easter cannot be understood or explained without evoking the Jewish Passover, which Israel celebrated, and which the Jews still do, as the Hebrews celebrated it three thousand years ago, on the eve of their departure from Egypt, by order of Moses. Jesus himself celebrated Passover every year during his earthly life, according to the ritual among God’s people, until the last year of his life, on whose Passover the Supper and institution of the Eucharist took place.
In celebrating Easter at the Supper, Christ gave the traditional commemoration of the liberation of the Jewish people a new and much broader meaning. It is not a people, an isolated nation whom He frees but the whole world, whom he prepares for the Kingdom of Heaven. Christian Passover – full of deep symbology, celebrates the protection that Christ has not ceased nor will cease to bestow on the Church until He opens the doors of heavenly Jerusalem. The Feast of Easter is, above all, the representation of the key event of humanity, the Resurrection of Jesus after his death, consented by Him, for the rescue and restoration of fallen men and women. This event is an undeniable historical event. In addition to all the evangelists having referred to The Resurrection, St Paul confirms it as the historian he is, relying not only on evidence, but on testimonies as well.
Easter is victory, it is men and women called to their greatest dignity. How can we not rejoice in the victory of the One who was so unjustly condemned to the most terrible passion and death on the cross?, for the victory of the One who was previously flogged, slapped, spit upon, with such inhumane cruelty?
Importance of the celebration
Resurrection or Easter Sunday is the most important feast for all Catholics, for with the Resurrection of Jesus all our religion becomes meaningful. Christ triumphed over death and with this, He opened the gates of Heaven to us. At Sunday Mass we remember this great joyful event in a special way. The Paschal Candle is lit. It represents the light of the Risen Christ and will remain lit until the Feast of the Ascension, when Jesus ascends to Heaven. The Resurrection of Jesus is a historical fact, evidence of which are the empty tomb and the numerous apparitions of Jesus Christ to his apostles, among others. When we celebrate the Resurrection of Christ, we are also celebrating our own deliverance. We celebrate the defeat of sin and death. In the Resurrection we find the key to Christian hope: if Jesus is alive and always next to us, what can we fear? What can worry us? Any suffering takes on a new meaning with the Resurrection, for we can be sure that, after a short life on earth, if we have been faithful, we will come to a new and eternal life, in which we will enjoy God forever.
This is the day of universal hope, the day when all human sufferings, disappointments, humiliations, crosses, violated human dignity, disrespected human life come together and are associated to Christ, who has triumphed over evil and death. The Resurrection shows us our Christian vocation and our mission: to bring Jesus, risen from the dead, closer to all people. We can never lose hope in the victory of good over evil. Do I believe in the Resurrection? Do I proclaim it? Do I believe in my Christian vocation and mission? Do I live it? Do I believe in the future resurrection? Does this encourage me in this life? These are some of the questions that should be asked.
The redeeming message of Easter, the total purification of men and women, the liberation of their selfishness, their sensuality, their complexes. A purification that involves a phase of cleansing and inner sanitation and is nevertheless done in a positive way with gifts of fullness, such as the enlightenment of the Spirit, the vitalization of being a new life, which overflows joy and peace – peak of all messianic goods – in a word, the presence of the risen Lord. St Paul expressed it with uncontainable emotion in this text: If you have risen with Christ, then you will manifest yourselves glorious with Him. (cf. Col. 3 1-4).
Paul tells us, “And if Christ has not been raised, then empty is our preaching; empty, too, your faith” (I Corinthians15:14)
If Jesus had not risen, his words would have been left floating in the air, his promises would have been left unfulfilled,and we would doubt that he was truly God.
But because Jesus did resurrect, then we know that He overcame death and sin; we know that Jesus is God; weknow that we will be resurrected too; we know that He gained eternal life for us, and in this way, our whole lives takeon true meaning.
The Resurrection is a source of deep joy. In the light of it, we Christians cannot live with sad faces anymore. We musthave the face of the resurrected, show the world our joy because Jesus has overcome death.
The Resurrection is a light for us, and every Christian must radiate that same light to all men and women by makingthem partakers of the joy of the Resurrection through their words, their testimony and their apostolic work.
We must be truly joyful about the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, our Lord. During the season of Easter, which begins now, we must take advantage of all the graces God gives us to grow in our faith and be better Christians. Let’s livethis time profoundly.
With Resurrection Sunday, the Season of Easter begins, in which we remember the time that Jesus remained with the apostles before going up to heaven, during the Feast of Ascension.
How is Easter Sunday celebrated?
It is celebrated with a solemn Mass in which the Paschal Candle is lit, symbolizing the Risen Christ, the light of all peoples. In some places, very early in the morning, a procession is carried out called “of the Holy Encounter”. A group of people bear the image of Our Lady and meet another group of people who bear the image of the risen Jesus, as a symbol of the joy of seeing the Lord alive.
In some countries, it is customary to celebrate the joy of the Resurrection by hiding candies in the garden for young children to find, based on the legend of the “Easter bunny”. The most widespread custom around the world, to celebrate Easter, is to give candy or chocolate eggs to children and friends. Sometimes, the two traditions combine and so the search for the hidden Easter eggs symbolizes every Christian’s search for the Risen Christ.
The tradition of “Easter eggs”
The origin of this custom comes from the ancient Egyptians, who, on special occasions, used to give one another eggs decorated by themselves. They decorated them with paint they took from plants and the best gift was the egg that was best painted. They kept them as ornaments in their homes.
When Jesus ascended to Heaven after spending time with his apostles after his Resurrection, the first Christians set a time of year – Lent, forty days before the Passover feast – when all Christians had to make sacrifices to cleanse their souls. One of these sacrifices was not to eat egg during Lent. Then, on Easter Day, they left their homes with baskets of eggs to give to other Christians. Everyone was very happy, for with the eggs they remembered that they were celebrating Easter, the Resurrection of Jesus.
One of these early Christians remembered the Egyptians’ tradition and one Easter day he came up with the idea of painting the eggs he was going to give away. Other Christians loved the idea and imitated it. Since then, colorful eggs have been given at Easter to remember Jesus’ Resurrection. Gradually, other Christians added new ideas, such as making chocolate eggs and candy to give away at Easter. Those are the ones we give one another today.
Legend of the “Easter Bunny”
Its origin dates back to the pre-Christian Anglo-Saxon festivals, when the rabbit was the symbol of fertility associated with the goddess Eostre, to whom the month of April was dedicated. Progressively, this image was included in Holy Week and, from the nineteenth century, chocolate and sugar bunnies began to be made in Germany.
This also gave origin to a curious legend that told that when they put Jesus into the tomb that Joseph of Arimathea had given them, inside the cave there was a hidden rabbit, who was very frightened seeing how all the people came in, cried and were sad because Jesus had died. The rabbit stood there looking at Jesus’ body when they laid the stone that closed the entrance and wondered who that man whom everybody loved so much was. So, he spent a lot of time watching him, a whole day and a whole night. Suddenly the rabbit saw something surprising: Jesus got up and folded the sheets with which he had been wrapped. An angel removed the stone that covered the entrance and Jesus left the cave more alive than ever! The rabbit understood that Jesus was the Son of God and decided that he had to tell the world and all the people who had been crying that they should no longer be sad since Jesus had resurrected. Since rabbits can’t talk, it occurred to him that if he brought them a painted egg, they would understand the message of life and joy and so he did. Since then, the legend tells, the rabbit goes out every Easter Sunday to leave colorful eggs in every house to remind the world that Jesus has resurrected, and that we should live joyfully.