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Posts Tagged ‘Easter’

Yesterday we commemorated the death of Jesus Christ on the Cross; today, His Sabbath Rest in the tomb.

“Commemorate” may not be the most fitting word, for it is not just a matter of “memory” in the conventionally accepted sense (more…)

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This is a post about the three days of Easter weekend. I’m a little late to talk about Good Friday, and a little early to talk about Easter Sunday, so perhaps this is the perfect time to take all three days together (or at least that’s what I’m telling myself). Man of Sorrows

“Man lorenzetti” by Pietro Lorenzetti – Unknown. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Man_lorenzetti.jpg#/media/File:Man_lorenzetti.jpg

Good Friday

What exactly is so good about Good Friday? Surely this must be sarcasm…we couldn’t possibly look at the day on which Jesus Christ was mocked, spit upon, hit, whipped, impaled through the head with a crown of thorns, crushed under the weight of a cross, nailed to that cross, and thereby condemned to an unspeakably painful, humiliating, and dehumanizing public death, and call it anything but horrible, right?

As always, context is important. Let’s look at two examinations conducted alongside Christ’s Passion. Herod's Temple“Jerus-n4i” by Juan R. Cuadra – Own work. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Jerus-n4i.jpg#/media/File:Jerus-n4i.jpg

The first occurred in the Jerusalem Temple. It was the Feast of Passover, and the priests were examining the sacrificial lamb to ensure that it was “without blemish,” as Mosaic Law required (cf. Ex. 12:5). What-is-truth02“What-is-truth02” by Nikolai Ge – http://www.picture.art-catalog.ru/picture.php?id_picture=7515. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:What-is-truth02.jpg#/media/File:What-is-truth02.jpg

Meanwhile, Pontius Pilate carefully interrogated Christ, and found no guilt in Him. Though he did not know it, Pilate was performing a similar function to that of the Temple priests: He was examining the true Lamb, and was to find Him truly without fault; the latter made Him fit for sacrifice on the Cross, even while His innocence made Him undeserving of death.

What do we see in the bloody animal sacrifices of the Old Testament? Essentially, we see the ugliness of sin and the painful, difficult work required for our redemption. And in the Mystery of the Passion and Death of Our Lord, which fulfills all sacrifices, we see the ugliness of sin and the pain of redemption in the most brutally unadulterated light…right alongside the unfathomable depth of Divine Mercy.

On Good Friday, God Himself entered personally into the heart of our darkness and dysfunction, bringing light even into the darkest of places and, as the Liturgy tells us, “fashioning a remedy out of death itself.” Rather than orchestrating our salvation from a safe distance, He entered into our pain and sorrows right along with us, and even bore the burden of our guilt upon His innocent shoulders so that we might be justified.

That is what’s so good about Good Friday. Holy Saturday

“Cristo yacente Gregorio Fernandez”. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 es via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cristo_yacente_Gregorio_Fernandez.jpg#/media/File:Cristo_yacente_Gregorio_Fernandez.jpg

Holy Saturday

Okay – now we get to a more timely reflection. Today, we commemorate the day on which Jesus Christ rested in the tomb. He was laid in the tomb immediately after the crucifixion, and remained there all the next day.

That “next day” was the Sabbath, and according to Scripture it “was a solemn one” (John 19:31).

Though separated from His human soul, Christ’s body (along with His soul) remained united to His Divine Person. Therefore, it can truly be said that God Himself rested in the earth; and therefore, in turn, it can also truly be said that He rested in His creation on the Sabbath (cf. Gen. 2: 2-3).

Hence we have the definitive fulfillment of the Sabbath Rest of the first creation.

And while those still on earth had to wait another day, Christ came as deliverer to the souls of the righteous who had gone before Him. Going into Abraham’s Bosom in His human soul, he delivered all those great souls who had awaited His Coming for years, decades, centuries, and even millennia. It only makes sense that they should receive the benefits of the redemption first, even while Christ’s victory remained hidden from the world. Noel-coypel-the-resurrection-of-christ-1700

“Noel-coypel-the-resurrection-of-christ-1700” by Noël Coypel – http://www.1st-art-gallery.com/Noel-Coypel/The-Resurrection-Of-Christ,-1700.html. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Noel-coypel-the-resurrection-of-christ-1700.jpg#/media/File:Noel-coypel-the-resurrection-of-christ-1700.jpg

Easter Sunday

Now we come to the day of the great Victory, the day on which Christ was raised from the dead in the fullness of His Divinity and humanity, having definitively conquered death. Not only was He raised from the dead, but He was raised to immortality.

That is why today we observe the Lord’s Day on Sunday (the first day of the week) rather than on Saturday (the last day of the week). With the Resurrection, Christ inaugurated the new creation. Since the Resurrection, the Kingdom of God has been gradually breaking into history, into the world of time and space.

Easter Sunday (that is, the first one) was truly the greatest day in history, and that by far. Let that fact not be lost on us. Just as we should always be careful not to lose sight of the proverbial forest for the trees, on Easter we should take great care not to lose sight of the Resurrection for the Easter eggs.

And that’s all I have to say. Happy Easter, all!

Images from Wikipedia

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Before I begin, I should make it clear that Easter begins, rather than ends, on Easter Sunday — despite what retailers might have us believe (no offense intended to people in retail).

Gnosticism

There is an ancient religious-philosophical system known as gnosticism.  In a nutshell, gnosticism espouses the following general principles:

1. Matter is evil.  The material world, including our physical bodies, is created and ruled by a demon called the Demiurge.

2. Gnosis (Greek for “knowledge”).  Certain people — a very select few — are selected to be “saved” by becoming spiritual through a hidden, infused knowledge.  When they die, their true inner selvestheir spiritual souls — will break free from the prison of their physical bodies, and they will fly away to a realm of pure spirit.

ManicheansA related school of thought was Manichaeism, which flourished for a little while in the Near East during the early A.D. period.  St. Augustine of Hippo was a member of this school of thought for a little while, before converting to Christianity.

In his great work “Confessions,” Augustine shares an important insight that he gained after his conversion:

(. . .) and with a sounder judgement I held that the higher (I presume that he meant spiritual) things are indeed better than the lower, but that all things together are better than the higher ones alone (“Confessions,” VII:xiv — John K. Ryan translation from Image Books)

What was it about Judeo-Christian revelation that would have led him to that insight?  Well, for one thing, there is the Genesis creation account, which speaks of how God created the material world in all its splendor, climaxing in the creation of mankind…body and soul.

God looked at everything he had made, and he found it very good. (Gen. 1:31)

ResurrectionBut with the Resurrection of Christ, the Son of God, God in the flesh, this point is super-eminently reaffirmed.

With the Resurrection, any form of Gnostic dualism is definitively refuted.

With the Resurrection, God reaffirms the goodness of His creation, and especially of humankind.

With the Resurrection, the value of the human body as part of a person’s identity is radically reaffirmed.

With the Resurrection, the material world (to which the body is necessarily related) is not only– and not to be redundant — reaffirmed in its goodness, but, as Fr. Robert Barron says, “rais(ed) (…) up to a higher pitch.”*

Indeed, the Resurrection is the wellspring of renewal — not just for humanity but for all of creation, created good but damaged by sin.  And in Christ, God has seen fit to make us leaders in this great renewal.

That doesn’t mean that we will be able to build a perfect world here on earth, of course.  But as we prepare for that Final Day when Christ ushers in a new heavens and a new earth (Rev. 21:1), we must strive to spread the truly good and liberating news of the Divine Love and its definitive victory in all we say and do, bringing it to bear upon our everyday affairs and upon the things of this world.

Kind of makes Easter seem more exciting than images of bonnets and baskets, doesn’t it?

Images from Wikipedia

http://www.lentreflections.com/why-easter-matters/

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ResurrectionNight is gone, morning has come.  The King was asleep in the earth, but is now alive forevermore!

Those of you who read “Into the Dance” regularly may remember my Christmas post, in which I said that the Christmas Season began, rather than ended, with the December 25th celebration.

Well, the same goes for Easter.  With Holy Saturday, we marked the end of the Season of Lent.  With yesterday’s celebration of the Lord’s Resurrection from the dead, we marked the beginning of the 40-day Easter Season.

Lent was a time of penance, but now the time for rejoicing has arrived.  For by His triumph over death, Jesus Christ has freed mankind — and, by extension, all creation — from bondage.  He has arrested the downward trajectory of creation and history toward death, entropy, and loss.  In raising His Son bodily from the dead, God has eminently reaffirmed the goodness of creation:

God looked at everything he had made, and he found it very good. (Genesis 1:31)

And in spite of our sin, the glorious Resurrection of Our Lord reaffirms God’s top project — namely, humanity.  Humanity has lost faith in God many times throughout history, but God has never taken away His fidelity to humanity.

In fact, in assuming unto Himself a human nature, dying for our sins, and rising in His full divinity and full humanity from the dead, Jesus has offered us something abundantly more than we could ever ask or imagine.  He offers us a share in His very own life, the life of the Holy Trinity — the Divine Life.  He has risen from the dead never to die again, and He promises the same to all those who persevere in love for Him, even though in the meantime they continue to face many trials in this world that is “groaning in travail” (Romans 8:22).

And yes, this world is still a messed up place with a lot of problems.  But the birth pangs have begun.  And Christians are to bear witness to this by their witness to Christ, the only Savior, and live out their responsibility to the world in the spirit of the Resurrection.

A Happy Easter to everyone, and in the words of St. Paul:

Rejoice (in the Lord) always. (1 Thes. 5:16)

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