The feast and the spirit of Easter

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16

Rev Fr C Joseph
Counsellor, St Joseph’s College (Autonomous) Jakhama

Introduction: Onthe third day after His death and burial, the Lord Jesus rose from the dead through His own power, because of the union of the human and divine natures in the one Divine Person of Christ. When Holy Scripture says that Christ was raised by God (Acts 2:24) or by the Father (Gal 1:1) it is to be understood that these statements refer to His human nature, but that the cause of the resurrection was the hypostatic union of Christ’s humanity with the Godhead.The resurrection of Christ is objective in that He walked out of the tomb, still bearing the wounds of His suffering, but from the moment of the resurrection His body was in a state of glory, which is attested to by the circumstances of His appearances recorded in the Gospels and in Acts, in which He is no longer bound by time or space.

The Feast of Easter: Christians in Russia have a special Easter way of wishing: people embrace one another, one of them saying: “Christ is risen”, to which the other replied: “He has risen indeed.” This way of wishing is indeed meaningful. It amounts to saying: “We are sure that the Lord is risen; let us rejoice!” The event of the resurrection of Jesus took place nearly two thousand years ago. But as we have often said, we Christians rejoice in our feasts not just for something we remember, but for something which takes place in our very own days and takes place in us.Christ, who rose on that first Easter morning, continues to rise in every Christian. Unless this rising to a new life with Christ has taken place within each one of us, our rejoicing at Easter is meaningless. How meaningful the Feast of Easter becomes when we think of the wonder Jesus has worked in us!
The Spirit of Easter: Easter is a principal feast of the Christians and a major celebration. Easter is celebrated on a Sunday at the end of seven weeks of preparation, which includes prayer, sacrifice and act of kindness. According to Christian faith, Jesus Christ died on the cross on Friday -- known as Good Friday, and returned to life on the third day -- the glorious Easter Sunday. In preparation for celebrating Easter, believers spend 40 days in various acts of fasting, almsgiving and prayers.Easter always falls on a Sunday between March 22 and April 25. In the cycle of nature, Easter always falls in spring. Characteristic of spring is green and colourful nature – new sprouts, fresh leaves, blossoming of flowers. Nature gets new life and look. So, the symbolic meaning of Easter and spring is similar. Jesus dies and regains life on Easter and as does nature in spring. Easter celebration calls upon Christians to live renewed life and give hope and new life to those in needs.In preparation for Easter, recalling the desert experience of Jesus, Christians observe 40 days of Lent – a time of penitence and sacrifice -- from Ash Wednesday till Holy Saturday. Three key practices during Lent are fasting and sacrifice, almsgiving and acts of kindness, and prayers. Believers skip meals, omit meat and/or fish, consume less food, reduce expenses, and spend more time in prayer and meditation. Thus, they save money and use that to do good deeds for others. Fasting helps to control sensual feelings and change character; Christians also practice giving up bad habits and acquire good qualities. The spirit of Lent is: “Tear your hearts and not your clothes, and come back to God” (Joel 2: 13). Christians sincerely work on transforming their lives as preparation for Easter.

Mahatma Gandhi offered his life for liberating the people of the India sub-continent. Mother Teresa sacrificed her life for the poor and abandoned people of the world. Christians believe Jesus sacrificed his life for their sins. Believers of that time did not live a good life. For their wrongdoings and indulgences, Jesus gave his life – the Roman government crucified him to death. Realising God’s love, Jesus gave up his life through a painful ordeal. God awarded him with life in return. Hence, Easter becomes a celebration of sacrifice and life.

Easter should not merely be a religious festival for Christians. A genuine celebration of sacrifice and life demands not only festivity but also a resolution - an act of kindness that comes out of joy. 

Conclusion: A true celebration of Easter should turn to an action, a cause to better the lives of others.Celebration of sacrifice should reform and transform life; celebration of life should be seen in good deeds. Taking the side of the oppressed, raising voice for justice, practicing fairness in words and actions, living with hope and giving people courage to live should be the actions of a true celebration of sacrifice and life. That is the characteristic of an Easter people. Society needs Easter people.“Unless there is Good Friday in your life, there can be no Easter Sunday.” – Fulton J. Sheen