Posted on: 2016-03-26

The authentic Easter experience

Passing through the full Easter experience must necessarily be an enriching and refreshing experience for those who live it well. The great "Alleluia" of Easter has its roots in the "Crucify Him" of Good Friday simply because nog a song of victory if he had never fought a war. In itself, Good Friday was the culmination of Jesus' complete dedication to bringing God's light into a world of darkness. The earthly part of that journey which began already on the day the angel Gabriel visited Mary to announce the birth of the Saviour, ended with the great Alleluia of Jesus' resurrection.

The Complete Package

For the sake of simplification and easy understanding the Church explains today that the Paschal Mystery of Jesus is composed of His journey to Jerusalem celebrated on Palm Sunday, His passion, His death, His resurrection and all His activities and teaching in between. For Christians today, however. this outline needs to be stretched even further. Those who would truly celebrate Easter must be people who have travelled diligently through the period of Lent in the same spirit of Jesus Christ, that is those who have accompanied him on the stations and stages of His cross-project. In that sense, even the almsgiving, fasting, prayer, reconciliation, etc form part of that paschal mystery experience. People who diligently walk the stations of the cross with Jesus have only one destination for their road always leads to the cross and the resurrection.

This says the Lord

It is in this sense that the seven readings proposed in the Liturgy of Holy Saturday before the  vigil Mass trace a good sketch of salvation history. They deserve to be regularly revisited even as the alleluia of Easter rings out from every lip. The Scripture passages take us right from the creation of the world by God and his Holy Spirit in which man played little or no role, to  the heroism of Abraham who scored high marks after God put him to the test. (Gen 22: 1-18). Human history and the economy of salvation then evolved with God choosing a people for himself, making Moses the leader and prophet par excellence to lead that stiff-necked but beloved people of Israel to the Promised Land.( Ex 14:) The song of victory composed by the children of Israel was already a preview of Easter. "I will sing to the Lord, glorious his triumph! Horse and rider he has thrown into the sea" (Ex. 15:). The prophets who came after Moses then helped to sharpen the relationship between God and his people. Through Isaiah, God assured his people of his everlasting love and of his determination to provide for their needs. "Oh come to the water all you who are thirsty, though you have no money, come....Listen to me and you will have good things to eat and rich food to enjoy" (Is. 55: 1-11). In Baruch God emphasized his commandment and love and gave the guarantee for his faithfulness through the Prophet Ezekiel. "I am not doing this for your sake, House of Israel but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you have gone" (Ez. 36:).

 The distilled Scripture    

Similarly the Easter period offers us an opportunity to enjoy the great hymns of salvation which I call "the distilled Scripture of Easter": "My Lord he died for a Kingdom to redeem the hearts of men, now my people don't you weep, he has risen from his sleep he lives again, Alleluia! This is surely the fresh, modern brew of the ancient composition: "Christ the Lord is risen today". Such hymns however only make sense with the background of the unforgettable, "Oh come and mourn with me awhile", or of the age-old: "When I survey the Wondrous Cross on which the prince of glory died". Those hymns, composed over decades of ecclesiastical life and personal experience are loaded with inspiration and exhortation. Not surprisingly, because the mystery of Easter itself  is the story of how God finally gave an answer to all the "Red Sea" ordeals and "Good Friday" horrors of his children. On Easter vigil the Exsultet, the "Rejoice hymn" of Easter tells the story of salvation in theological terms, alluding to the light which illumines all the light of the world without reducing its own illumination and to the "happy fault" of Adam that brought about the sacrifice of the Son of Man.

 The ultimate weapon and ultimate victory

Finally, Easter represents the liquidation of death, that ultimate weapon of Evil. It demonstrates the potency of God's ultimate solution, whereby light reverses the darkness and truth overcomes falsehood. The fire of the Easter vigil from which all participants receive their light is the enduring sign and evidence that the risen Christ will always win our battle against the powers of evil. How well it is stated in the hymn: "Low in the grave he lay, Jesus my Saviour, waiting the dawning day Jesus my Lord.... death cannot hold its prey,.... he threw the chains away.... Up from the grave he arose with a mighty triumph over his foes. He arose a victor from the dark domains and he lives forever with the saints to reign. He arose, alleluia, Christ arose". Such joy which should be enhanced by the question: "What really would have been our fate if Christ had not risen from the dead? The answer of Saint Paul must guide our response: "Unthinkable!" (1Cor. 15:14-19).