Rev. Fr. Gwayhunlo Lawrence Khing
This is Easter where life has conquered death…. Easter is a movable feast which is celebrated between 22ndMarch and 25th April. The word, EASTER embodies many pre-Christian traditions, yet scholars accept the derivation proposed by the 8th century English Scholar, St. Bede. They believed that the word comes from EASTRE, an Anglo-saxon name of a teutonic goddess of Spring and fertility, to whom was dedicated a month corresponding to April. On the other hand, a Greek legend tells of the return of PERSEPHONE – the goddess of the earthfrom the underworld to the light of the day. Her return symbolized to the ancient Greeks the resurrection of life in the Spring after the desolation of winter.
Although there are converging traditions, for Christians the origin of Easter goes back to the Jewish festival of Passover or Pesach from which is derivedPasch, another name for EASTER. The early Christians were Jewish origin but brought up in a Hebrew tradition and regarded Easter as a new feature of the advent of the Messiah as foretold by the Prophets.
According to the New Testament, Jesus was crucified on the eve of Passover, but rose to life on the third day. Thus there is the idea of passing over from death to life as the Israelites passed over from Egypt to the Promised Land.
How did the celebration of Easter begin to take its universal stand? Emperor Constantine, the Great convoked the Council of Nicea in the year 325. The council unanimously ruled that the Easter festival should be celebrated throughout the Christian world on the first Sunday after the full moon following the vernal equinox between 22nd March and 25th April. Between this span of time is celebrated the feast of Passover. Thus, it is linked with the nature and celebration of Passover where the new Paschal Lamb – Jesus, passed over from death to life destroying the very root of death by his own passion, death and resurrection.
The life of Jesus Christ is not complete without His Resurrection. He did overcome the darkness of the tomb, because He is the Light of the world and whoever follows him will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life (Jn.8:12). This resurrected light has been shared to us all, the baptised people of the Children of God. Therefore, Jesus clearly mentions that it is not he alone who is the Light of the world for he says, “You are the light of the world” (Mt.5:14). The power to overcome the darkness of death is a gift of God to all who believe in Him. So whoever believes in God even though he dies an earthly death will live forever (Jn.11:25)
The message of Easter is a call to be another light in our society. A society torn apart by war and violence, hatred and envy can be made new by the power of the light of the resurrection. The Nagas in particular need to understand more deeply the spirit of Christian life. We are Christians not just because Christianity came to our land, but we are Christians because in Christ there is new life, a life where forgiveness and peaceful co-existence is found. This is the life God offers to us in His Son Jesus. So, take Jesus Christ in to your family today because He alone is “The Way, The Truth and The Life”. Seek the way, search for the truth and you will find life eternal. If we have not done so, we need to re-define our life in the perspective of the risen Christ for in Him there is fullness of life.
Today, our Christian life has become a mirage. Our Church stands so majestically without the presence of God in it. Our worship becomes only a gathering of people. And our life becomes a wavering wick in the wind. This is not the life Christ expect us to be. So, let us fill our human life with the life of Christ. Easter is a time to renew our past and live in the light of Christ. Let Jesus Christ shed the power of his resurrection in our life, so that we may be able to live in Christ not only here on earth, but even in the life to come. We need to pass from our death self to a new self where God will be all in all. We are all journeying the road to Emmaus, in this journey, may we see the risen Lord in the face of our brothers and sisters.
HAPPY EASTER AND MAY THE PEACE OF CHRIST BE WITH YOU ALL, AMEN.