Easter Springs to Life
By Diane M. Houdek
Source: Catholic Update
Published: Sunday, March 31, 2013
The first time I saw kids lining up to see the Easter Bunny at the local mall, I didn’t know whether to be amused or appalled. I grew up looking for Easter baskets hidden around the house, chocolate bunnies (preferably solid white), jelly beans and colored eggs. But asking for presents from said holiday rabbit was going too far.
Easter is the high point of our liturgical year, as the resurrection is the pinnacle of our Christian identity. Yet it’s the most difficult feast to understand. Unlike Christmas, which brings the Son of God to a human level we can begin to comprehend, Easter raises us to our ultimate destiny. And the resurrection changed not only the lives of a few people, but the nature of human reality itself. Death was no longer the end of all existence.
It’s no wonder, then, that the secular world has given us images we can hang our Easter bonnets on. But when the chocolate rabbits are long gone and we’re tired of eating hard-boiled eggs, as a faith community we’re just beginning to unpack the mystery of the resurrection. As with any life-changing event, understanding doesn’t come instantly.
A hollow chocolate bunny may be the best symbol we can have for this glorious feast of Easter. At the heart of the resurrection narrative in all the Gospels is the empty tomb. Each of the disciples must face that emptiness and discover what it means. Our own journey of faith must start in the same place.
Some of the lasting images of Easter and the resurrection take something we can’t know at all from our own experience and put it into the context of our daily lives: an encounter with a beloved friend, a simple evening meal, a shepherd and his sheep.
Early Morning in the Garden
John’s Gospel has pride of place on the Sundays of Easter. In this Gospel, Jesus is clearly Christ and Son of God throughout. The other Gospels tend to emphasize the historical Jesus of Nazareth through much of his ministry, with glimpses of his divine nature at key moments such as the baptism, the transfiguration and, of course, the resurrection.
Surprisingly, then, John’s Gospel also features some of the most individual and personal encounters of any described in the Gospels. Because John has stressed Jesus’ true identity from the beginning, the willingness of his characters to grapple with the resurrection event comes as less of a shock. Mary Magdalene, Peter, the beloved disciple and Thomas all come to terms with the Risen Christ.
Mary, lost in her grief, mistakes Jesus for the gardener and wants to know what happened to the body. Peter, often reprimanded for being impetuous, seems unwilling to jump to any conclusions when confronted with the empty tomb. The beloved disciple, seeing with the eyes of love, accepts the truth of the resurrection and proclaims it to the others.
Everything Jesus did was motivated by love. Pouring out his divinity in the incarnation and pouring out his humanity in the passion were signs of his love for us. The resurrection is no different. This is what John helps us understand.
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