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The Joy of Easter

With Easter just a week away, we've almost made it to the Lenten finish line! Pretty soon we'll be enjoying sweets and alcohol again, and the shrouds will come off our crucifixes and statues. Hopefully, the sun will warm the earth as we celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord.

Easter is the ultimate feast for the Church. Jesus's Resurrection brought victory over death, and proved His divinity. Without the Resurrection, the movement Jesus began very well may have died out. After Good Friday, His disciples were left scattered and scared. Their leader was dead, and their very existence was threatened by both their Jewish peers and the Roman Empire. Had Jesus not risen from the dead, His life and teachings may have trickled down through a few generations before being lost to the ages.

But He did rise. Though He prophesied it (Mk 8:31), the apostles did not seem to be expecting it. The Gospels record them mourning in the aftermath of His death, and Mark recounts that they did not believe when Mary Magdalene ran to tell them of His Resurrection (Mk 16:9-11). However, once He appeared to them and they could see that He was indeed the Risen Christ, they were set on a path that changed the course of history. So convinced were they of the Resurrection that they spread His Word throughout the known world, even with the constant threat of execution. Indeed, all of the apostles except St. John were martyred, and thousands of Christians were martyred in the first few centuries after Christ's Death and Resurrection. Their witness, especially of those present in the days following Christ's crucifixion (the Bible records that more than 500 people saw the Resurrected Christ), lent credibility to their message, and millions converted within the first 300 years.

The historical Jesus rose from the dead. In doing so, He conquered death - not only His own death, but ours as well. He truly was the Sacrificial Lamb. In giving Himself up to die, He took on the burden of our sins. In rising, He allowed us the possibility of eternal life with Him, despite those sins, which had previously destined us for Hell. As the Easter Vigil hymn cries, 'O happy fault that earned for us so great, so glorious a Redeemer!' The fall of Adam, that happy fault, required Jesus, our Glorious Redeemer and the Incarnated Lord, to fix the sin that had entered the world. He did not need to come to Earth, but He did because of His great love for us. And so, Easter is rightly the most joyous feast of the year. Celebrate His goodness, and always cling to Him! Happy Easter!


By Anna Neal

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