By Marta Timar
The ultimate among Solemnities, the greatest among Feasts – Easter is the day we celebrate the crowning, central truth of our faith in Jesus Christ. Easter is the most important day of the Christian calendar, more important than even Christmas. It is the day of the Resurrection and Christ’s triumphant victory over sin and death.
Through the solemn observances of Lent, we join our sorrowful Blessed Mother in accompanying Jesus on the road to Calvary. Particularly on Holy Thursday and Good Friday, when we unite ourselves to our Lord’s Passion, contemplating the suffering Jesus endured for love of us, we are transformed through this uniting in order to also share in Jesus’ great culminating victory over sin and death. On Easter, we celebrate Jesus’ glorious Resurrection from the dead – the basis for our faith, as Saint Paul emphatically reminds us in his first epistle to the Corinthians: “And if Christ be not risen again, your faith is vain, for you are yet in your sins. Then they also that are fallen asleep in Christ are perished” (1 Corinthians 15:17-18).
Just as we are called to share in Our Lord’s Passion and Death, we are also called to unite ourselves to His Resurrection during Easter, for if “we have died with Him, we shall also live with Him” (2 Timothy 2:11). This greatest of gifts, given to us lovingly and freely by our Redeemer, has purchased for us eternal life. We can hope for no greater glory than to gain the Beatific Vision and live eternally with God, the Blessed Virgin Mary, the angels and saints in Heaven.
The joy of our faith and hope rests in the words of Jesus to Martha before He raised Lazarus from the dead: “I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, although he be dead, shall live; and every one that liveth, and believeth in me, shall not die for ever” (John 11:25-26). Let us join our voices to Martha’s as we echo her response to Jesus: “Yes, Lord, I have believed that thou art Christ, the Son of the living God” (John 11:27).
Easter not only is the foundation of our faith, Easter also invigorates our hope. Hope draws our eyes upward, where God resides. Saint Paul encourages us: “Therefore, if you be risen with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God. Mind the things that are above, not the things that are upon the earth. For you are dead and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ shall appear, who is your life, then you also shall appear with Him in glory” (Colossians 3:1-4).
While Christmas and Easter both have Octaves, the Church celebrates the Easter season for a longer period than it does Christmas. “Eastertide” extends to 50 days, and commemorates the 40 days Our Lord spent on earth after His Resurrection to the time of His Ascension into Heaven, as well as the 10 days from the Ascension to the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
On Easter Sunday, let us all join with the chorus of the faithful as we proclaim, “Yes, rejoice and be glad for Christ is truly risen! Alleluia!”