Easter: The Greatest Feast In Christendom
EASTER is the greatest feast in the Christian calendar. On this Sunday, Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. For Catholics, Easter Sunday comes at the end of 40 days of prayer, fasting and almsgiving known as Lent. Through spiritual struggle and self-denial, we have prepared ourselves to die spiritually with Christ on Good Friday, the day of His crucifixion.
Easter is a day of celebration because it represents the fulfilment of our faith as Christians. St. Paul wrote that, unless Christ rose from the dead, our faith is in vain (1 Corinthians 15:17). Through His death, Christ saved mankind from bondage to sin, and He destroyed the hold that death has on all of us; but it is His Resurrection that gives us the promise of new life, both in this world and the next.
The Resurrection is central to the Christian’s faith! It was indeed a “New Creation,” immeasurable by time, because it was not a “coming back” from the dead. It was a going beyond death. It was not a coming back to mortal existence (as was true for Lazarus). It was nothing less than Jesus’ entrance into the life of God. The Risen One can never die. He is totally in God, Who is all life. Jesus entered into an entirely new kind of existence: an immortal existence that robbed the grave of its victim, not temporarily, but forever.
The rising of Christ from the dead brought forth new hope for a lost world. With the resurrection, humanity is now sure of sharing eternal life with God, provided we believe and accept Him. By His resurrection, Christ gave a deadly blow to the mortal body and transformed same for immortality and life everlasting. Thus, one day, this earthly body shall be no more and we also shall rise in glory with our eternal Father. Hallelujah.
Easter is not just a happy ending to Jesus’ story. It is a radical new beginning for him and for the human race. The grave was no terminal event for Him. And because of Him, it will never be such for us either. Easter means that what is mortal becomes what is eternal. Eternal life for Jesus and for all of humanity was born in the grave. Easter is the gateway into the new paradise. Jesus rising from the dead is the new Adam. He is also, in Paul’s words, “the first-born of many brothers and sisters” (Rom. 8:29). We are those brothers and sisters. For us, therefore, Easter speaks of the process, already begun in our Baptism, of our entering into eternal life. Easter is indeed the story that lives forever.
Very Rev. Msgr. Osu, Director, Social Communications, Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos.