It is that beautiful time again, when the sun is out and flowers begin to bloom. Spring has sprung! Sports have picked up and everyone loves to be outside. But for Christians, this time of year brings hope, peace and joy! This is the season of Easter! A season celebrated by Christians around the world for more than 2,000 years. Father George Rutler believes Easter is an essential part of the Catholic religion, and he is not wrong. Easter is the very basis of the Catholic/Christian religion. Without Easter this religion does not make sense.
Easter is the celebration of Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection. Around the year 33AD, during the time of the Roman Empire, there was a man named Jesus, who claimed to be the Son of God. He spent three years teaching, preaching, and performing miracles among the Israelite community. But the Jewish leaders of the Israelite community did not like him. Their disputes grew worse, to the point that they put a warrant out for his arrest. They offered 30 pieces of silver to anyone who would turn him into the religious authorities. Jesus’ own disciple, Judas, took the Jewish leaders up on this offer and he turned Jesus into the authorities. Jesus was tried as a criminal in the Israelite community. Going through interrogation after interrogation up the superior ladder. First it was the religious leaders, then it was Pilot, the governor for Caesar. But in each interrogation, no one could find anything he did wrong. But the Jewish people were so angry at him for claiming to be the Son of God, that they begged Pilate to crucify Jesus. They shouted and chanted in the streets “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” Pilot unable to find anything criminal about Jesus, turned him back over to the Jewish religious leaders and they had him crucified. They drove nails through Jesus’ hands and feet, he hung on the cross for all the world to see, until he died six hours later. One man named Joseph took Jesus’ body and put it in a freshly cut tomb not far from where he was crucified. They covered the opening of the tomb with a huge stone that was unable to be moved. Then three days later, a couple women came by the tomb to properly prepare the body for burial, but when they arrived the stone was rolled away and the body was not in the tomb. Jesus had risen from the dead!
Father George Rutler believes the beauty of this story is not that a man died and rose again, though that is amazing! But the true beauty is that Jesus, God in human form, lived a perfect life, so that he could die a death he did not deserve, so that we may be forgiven and offered a relationship with a holy God. Without the story of Easter the Christian message of love, forgiveness and eternal life does not hold up. The whole Catholic/Christian faith hinges on the truth of this story, and that is why Easter is so important and why it has been celebrated for thousands of years.