Fr Paul Lelen Haokip
From the lens of a Management student, I see “Easter” as a moment so vital for reorganization of the three-year old organization of 12 disciples headed by Jesus of Nazareth. That reorganization of the apostles is today the biggest religion on earth. Sometimes, even as a Christian you might have taken your basic beliefs for granted. Take a time-out to ponder on some realities about Easter and its celebration. You may sometimes be unable to prove why you believe what you believe, where you actually get your beliefs. They must have authentic sources; else they will be just subjective truths which hold no solid foundation.
PASSOVER FEAST: The word “Easter” is not found in the Bible but “Passover” is found in the Old Testament and New Testament. The well-known Old Testament Passover story centres on God’s deliverance of Israelites from Egypt through ten miraculous plagues in favour of the former. These included how the death angel would “pass over” all the houses where the Israelites lived while killing the first born of every non-Israelite family. They were instructed to put blood over their doorposts to ensure that only the firstborn of Egypt would die. Exodus 12:12-14 state that the “Passover” ceremony was commanded by God to be an annual memorial feast to be kept by Israel “forever.” This command is repeated in Leviticus 23:5. Exodus 12:15 introduces the seven-day festival called the Days of Unleavened Bread (also repeated in Leviticus 23:6-8), which was to immediately follow the Passover feast each year. This is why Acts 12:3b states, “Then were the days of unleavened bread,” before mentioning the Passover in the next verse. These days were always kept in conjunction with one another. The death of Jesus took place during the Passover festive time. So Passover has in some way paved the way for celebration of the resurrection of Jesus from death.
The resurrection phenomenon powerfully assisted the almost scattered disciples find a reason to come back for re-evaluation and strategic planning for the henceforth vision and mission. The shameful death of their master hung on the tree was a shock beyond words. Three days later, the resurrection enabled them to accept and pass over the shame.
EASTER: When mother earth has already declared the arrival of spring season through new buds and leaves, why should we doubt to celebrate abundant life? God is full of abundant life. David C. Pack writes that “Easter” is a description of an ancient Babylonian family—2,000 years before Christ—honouring the resurrection of their god, Tammuz, who was brought back from the underworld by his mother/wife, Ishtar after whom the festival was named. As Ishtar was actually pronounced “Easter” in most Semitic dialects, it could be said that the event portrayed here is, in a sense, Easter. Of course, the occasion could easily have been a Phrygian family honouring Attis and Cybele, or perhaps a Phoenician family worshipping Adonis and Astarte. Also fitting the description well would be a heretic Israelite family honouring the Canaanite Baal and Ashtoreth. Or this depiction could just as easily represent any number of other immoral, pagan fertility celebrations of death and resurrection—including the modern Easter celebration as it has come to us through the Anglo-Saxon fertility rites of the goddess Eostre or Ostara. These are all the same festivals, separated only by time and culture. Supposedly, you have been celebrating or have seen celebration for very many years. Today, this feast is to commemorate the resurrection of Jesus from the death – conquering evil and celebrating the era of life. He rose from the dead! We are actually celebrating Jesus’ death for our sins and His resurrection. That is why many people call “Easter” as Resurrection Sunday, because that is exactly what it is.
MOMENT OF SELF-INVOLVEMENT: Will only rabbits, eggs and hot cross buns that became associated with Christ’s Resurrection be remembered today? Every half century or a century, we find cultures dying and new ones emerging. What Easter culture will you promote as a denizen of 21st century? Will you promote a culture of help to uplift the fallen, a culture of peace in war torn scenario, a culture of acceptance of the homeless, a culture of sincerity when corruption is almost taken as truth, a culture of ethnic co-existence when annihilation is the unspoken gospel, a culture of unity as against polarization? You will be able to add your own deeper reflections for yourself and your society. This is your self-involvement and your contribution.
Reorganize yourself and celebrate “Easter” meaningfully. Let the songs you sing spring from your heart, not from your throat. Let the wishes you convey come from personal concern, not out of habitual wishing. Your celebration should lead yourself, near and dear ones to happiness. Every day, we need to rise from our weariness, rise from our fallen image, rise when knocked down, rise from our indifference, rise from our limited thinking pattern, rise to be children of God with character that of God. Thank God for every morning you are able to rise from your bed. This is a sign that God still cares for you. He has a plan for your welfare. Each moment, reorganize your life for the better. This would be your “Easter” everyday. That is why I said, Easter is a moment of reorganization.