Easter by Father Peter Chinnappan
Significance of Easter: “Easter” literally means “the feast of fresh flowers.” Easter is the greatest and the most important feast in the Church for four reasons:
1) The Resurrection of Christ is the basis of our Christian Faith. It is the greatest of the miracles, for it proves that Jesus is God. That is why St. Paul writes: “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain; and your Faith is in vain” (I Cor 15:14). “Jesus is Lord, He is risen” (Rom 10:9), was the central theme of the kerygma (or “preaching”), of the Apostles
2) Easter is the guarantee of our own resurrection. Jesus assured Martha at the tomb of Lazarus: “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me will live even though he dies…” (Jn 11:25-26).
3) Easter is a feast which gives us hope and encouragement in this world of pain, sorrows and tears. It reminds us that life is worth living. It also gives us strength to fight against temptations and freedom from unnecessary worries and fears.
4) Easter gives meaning to our prayers: It supports our belief in the Real Presence of the Risen Jesus in and around us, in His Church, in the Blessed Sacrament and in Heaven, hearing our prayers, and so gives meaning to our personal as well as our communal prayers.
Reasons why we believe in the Resurrection of Jesus (1) Jesus himself testified to his Resurrection from the dead, giving it as a sign of his divinity. (Mark 8:31; Matthew 17:22; Luke 9:22). Tear down this temple and in three days I will build it again” (Jn 2: 19).
(2) The tomb was empty on Easter Sunday (Luke 24:3). Although the guards claimed (Matthew 28:13), that the disciples of Jesus had stolen the body, every sensible Jew knew that it was impossible for the terrified disciples of Jesus to steal the body of Jesus from a tomb guarded by an armed, 16-member Roman Guard detachment.
(3) The initial disbelief of Jesus’ own disciples in Jesus’ Resurrection, despite His repeated apparitions, serves as a strong proof of his Resurrection. Their initial disbelief explains why the Apostles started preaching the Risen Christ only after receiving the anointing of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost.
(4) The transformation of Jesus’ disciples: Jesus’ Resurrection and the anointing of the Holy Spirit transformed men who were hopeless and fearful after the crucifixion (Luke 24:21, John 20:19), into men who now were confident and bold witnesses to the Resurrection (Acts 2:24, 3:15, 4:2) powerfully preaching the Risen Lord.
(5) Neither the Jews nor the Romans could disprove Jesus’ Resurrection by presenting the dead body of Jesus.
(6) The Apostles and early Christians would not have fearlessly preached Christ as Savior and faced martyrdom if they were not sure of Jesus’ Resurrection.
(8) The sheer existence of a thriving, empire-conquering early Christian Church, bravely facing and surviving three centuries of persecution, supports the truth of the Resurrection claim.
(9) The New Testament witnesses do not bear the stamp of dupes or deceivers. The Apostles and the early Christians were sure about the Resurrection of Jesus.
Life Messages: 1) Let us live the lives of Resurrection people: We are not supposed to lie buried in the tomb of our sins, evil habits, dangerous addictions, despair, discouragement or doubts. Instead, we are expected to live a joyful and peaceful life, constantly experiencing the living presence of the Risen Lord Who loves us in all the events of our lives and amid the boredom, suffering, pain and tensions of our day-to-day life.
2) The conviction of the real presence of the Risen Lord with us and within us and all around us, enables us to lead disciplined Christian lives. It will help us to control our thoughts, desires, words, behavior and actions.
3) This salutary awareness of the presence of the Risen Lord within us inspires us to honor our bodies, keeping them holy, pure and free from evil habits and addictions. Our conviction that the loving presence of the Risen Lord dwells in our neighbors and in all those we encounter, should encourage us to respect them and to render them loving, humble and selfless service.
4) We need to become transparent Christians, radiating the Risen Lord around us in the form of selfless and sacrificial agape love, mercy, compassion and a spirit of humble service