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Last Updated Sunday October 22 2017 04:43 AM IST

Easter: Message of love and sacrifice

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Easter The moon appears as a halo behind a statue of Jesus at sunrise on Easter Sunday in Sydney. File Photo: REUTERS

Ancient Christians in Rome used to call Easter Sundays as the ‘Sundays of Happiness’. Christians on that day did not greet each other with the usual pleasantries, but affirmed the belief in Christ in their verbal exchanges. When one proclaimed, "Christ has been resurrected," the other would reply, "Verily, it is so."

Easter has become an occasion for happiness and for close to 2000 years, the day is being celebrated as a day of happiness all over the world. Coloured Easter eggs and white lilies have become the icons of the holy day.

Easter

Easter eggs have both a spiritual as well as frivolous significance. In countries such as Egypt, Rome and Greece, people used to decorate Easter eggs. The night before Easter, parents used to hide these eggs in different parts of their gardens. Next day, after returning from the church, children were given the task of finding out the hidden eggs. Those that found them all were given costly gifts.

To commemorate the resurrection of Christ, Easter eggs are given to people after certain ceremonies in some churches around the world. In the middle years, Easter eggs had a significant place in proceedings at churches. Easter eggs became synonymous with Easter as much as Christmas cakes became synonymous with Christmas. It is believed that Easter eggs became popular in AD 604.

On Good Friday

Easter Devotees on the way to Kurisumala at Wagamon on Good Friday. Photo: Manorama

When Jesus died, it marked one of the greatest sacrifices for the sake of humankind. The earth shook, the sky became dark and tombs cracked open. With a cry, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit," Jesus died. The death of Jesus is marked as Good Friday.

In a way, this is a day of happiness, because through his death, Jesus saved us; he made an enormous sacrifice. The foundation of the Christian religion is the death of Jesus and his resurrection and therefore, Good Friday assumes much importance in the life of a true Christian.

The day is dedicated to the lord by abstaining from worldly pleasures and immersing oneself in austerities and religious pursuits.

The trek of Christ from the house of Pilate to Golgotha, carrying the cross, is symbolic of his patience. Even though he was pure, he was charged with false crimes, tortured, abused and then crucified. The last seven statements that he made after he was crucified have to be meditated by us on Good Friday.

1.Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing (Luke, 23: 24)

2.Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise (23: 43)

3.Behold thy mother (John 19:27)

4.My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? (Mathews 27: 46)

5.I Thirst (John 19:28)

6.It is finished (John 19:30)

7.Father, into your hands I commit my spirit (Luke 23:46)

During Good Friday, churches carry out activities that highlight the importance of the cross and its position in religious norms. In churches, details of the torture that Christ had to undergo are read and meditated. Some churches also try to retrace the events that Jesus had to undergo in his final hours.

Literature says that Jesus died at 3 PM and therefore activities associated with Good Friday are carried out at this hour. Some Christians have the ritual of drinking bitter liquid during this time to commemorate the torture and death of Jesus.

On Easter Day

Easter

There was a garden at the place where Christ was crucified and a tomb was also present in the garden in which no one had hitherto been cremated. Since preparations were going on for Passover, Jesus was cremated there. Until the day of resurrection, the body of Christ lay in that tomb. The Saturday after Good Friday is the day believers pray to get redeemed from sins and ignorance.

The Saturday after Good Friday should be used to pray for enlightenment and one should be prepared to move ahead from sin and ignorance, to immortality. The day is considered to be one of the most peaceful days.

Nothing is mentioned in the scriptures about what the disciples of Jesus or his mother did on this day. However, there is mention about what his enemies said and schemed.

Since they feared that Christ would resurrect on the third day of his death, as often said by himself, priests and enemies of Jesus submitted to Pilate that the tomb of Jesus be guarded until the third day passes. This, they reasoned, would not give Christ’s disciples a chance to steal his body and proclaim that he arose from the dead. They then proceeded to seal the tomb and posted guards at the tomb.

Disciples of Jesus, who had escaped in different directions after his arrest, rejoined and waited on Saturday for his resurrection. We too need to wait on Saturday for his resurrection on Sunday. This practice has been in practice since the first century.

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