Today, Christians throughout the world celebrate the Feast of Easter. On this day Jesus of Nazareth, crucified and buried two days before, rose from the dead. The entirety of the Christian faith hinges on this fact. Now, this alone would be reason enough for an annual celebration. After all, every nation and culture observes and commemorates its great events. Why not Christian people?
But to reduce Easter to just a yearly commemoration would be to miss the point of the Feast entirely. Easter is not merely the commemoration but the continuation of Jesus Christ’s Resurrection. And this gets at the heart of what all Christians profess.
First, Jesus rose from the dead never to die again. His was no mere resuscitation. He rose triumphant over man’s greatest enemy, death itself: “For we know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him” (Rom 6:9). Every culture, philosophy, and religion has tried to answer the mystery of death. Christ alone has taken death in His hands and triumphed over it. His victory is not something confined to history, merely to be commemorated. It continues still, for He dies no more. He lives now eternally.
Second, He died and rose not for His own sake but for ours. He had no need to enter into that mortal combat, taking death into Himself and conquering it by His wounds. He did so in order to give us a participation in His victory, a share in His triumph over death. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ therefore is extended throughout the world and throughout history in His Body, the Church. Far from being confined to a remote Roman outpost two millennia ago, the power of the Resurrection continues to reach souls through the preaching of the Gospel, the celebration of the Sacraments, and the lives of Christians.
If the world remains in darkness or doubt about the truth of the Resurrection, it is in part because we Christians have not lived it. Those around us would be swifter to believe in the Redeemer if we lived more like men and women redeemed. This Feast, the most important in Christianity, is therefore a celebration of what has been accomplished for us – and likewise an exhortation to live by its grace, to continue the Resurrection here and now.