UNDERSTANDING YOUR FAITH: EASTER
By Vic Scaravilli
Easter is the greatest event in the history of the world! This single event changed the history of mankind forever. If the death and Resurrection of Christ had not occurred, then there would be no reason to have faith. Paul, when writing to the Corinthians, summed it up perfectly when he said, “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.”
The Resurrection confirms Jesus’ divine authority, that he is the Son of God, and God himself. By rising from the dead, Jesus fulfills all the promises that were made to mankind throughout our salvation history and confirms all of his works and teachings. Everything taught by Christ, even teachings that were hard to comprehend, now can be believed.
The reason why Christians believe and put their faith in God is that when Christ passed from death to life, He finally broke the bondage of sin. This allows everyone to obtain the gift of eternal life. Without this single act, we could not become members of God’s family. God fulfilled his covenant by allowing us to become his children. Jesus showed us his ultimate love by dying and rising in our behalf. This event concluded the salvation history of God and mankind.
A new era began on Easter morning. All Christians now have hope in the Risen Lord and his promises. As a result, the early believers began to worship on the day of the resurrection. Easter Sunday is the day that has given us our Sunday day of celebration. Our Lord rose from the dead on the day after the Sabbath and Christians made this day their worship day. Since then, every mass that is celebrated on Sunday, or the Lord’s Day, is a commemoration of the resurrection of Jesus. Sunday is now called the first day of the week.
Easter was celebrated on different days in the early church based on the time of the Jewish Passover. It was at the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD where the Church decreed that Easter, or the Christian Passover, should be celebrated on the Sunday following the first full moon after the vernal equinox. This is the reason why Easter is celebrated on different Sundays each year.
The Easter Vigil mass is, as St. Augustine called it, “the mother of all vigils.” Since the Bible tells us that when the women went to the tomb at the first sign of dawn and found that Jesus was not there, we know that Christ rose from the dead during the night. This is why the Easter Vigil is celebrated between nightfall on Saturday and daybreak on Sunday. The Vigil mass celebrates Christ’s actual resurrection from death. In addition, it is the time when it celebrates the sacraments of Christian initiation. This is the night when the people who have been in the RCIA program are welcomed into the Church by receiving the sacraments. The mass on Sunday reflects on the risen Jesus.
The celebration of Easter is not just observed on one day but is prolonged throughout the Easter season. The fifty days from Easter Sunday to Pentecost Sunday are celebrated as one feast day. The Sundays of this season are regarded as Sundays of Easter so we can continue to enjoy the wonderful gifts that God gave us through Jesus.
At the end of his Gospel reading on the Easter Vigil, Luke said “Peter got up and ran to the tomb, bent down, and saw the burial cloths alone; then went home amazed at what had happened.” Every one of also should be amazed of what has happened. Jesus, out of his unending love, died for us so that we may have the opportunity to members in his family and have the gift of eternal life. Let us give thanks to God every Sunday as go to mass and celebrate His Resurrection.