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Easter should usher a renewed way of life

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Christians have recalled and celebrated the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus every Sunday from the earliest times, often secretly in hiding in the catacombs. With the passing of a couple of centuries and the cessation of persecutions in Rome, the Church had more freedom and got organized. The “Mystery of Christ” – the unfathomable truths of the prophecies of the coming Messiah, the annunciation, life and mission, passion, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus of Nazareth, came to be recalled and commemorated during the ‘liturgical year’. The liturgical year is a yearly cycle of worship in which the ‘Jesus event’ is devotionally and worshipfully recalled for the spiritual benefit and the temporal orientation of life of the Christian faithful.
It is in the context of the yearly cycle of worship that they considered Easter Sunday and focused on the Resurrection as the holiest and most important day of the Liturgical Year. On Sundays the readings from Holy Scripture are selected either from the Old Testament, that is, from the scriptures of the Hebrews or from the writings of the disciples of Jesus; they are read to the worshipping congregation by laymen and women, interspersed by the singing of a Psalm or a canticle, a meditative and prayerful song of praise. It is followed by the deacon or priest reading a portion from one of the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John which narrates an episode in the life of Jesus Christ, often containing the proclamation of Jesus himself.

The presiding celebrant who is always an ordained priest brings to life the Gospel that has been read and exhorts the people to live a life in union with the Lord Jesus Christ according to his teaching. The ‘profession of faith’, the recital of the credal formula and prayers of the faithful follow. Then follows the sacramental celebration of the Eucharist which is a celebration of thanking God for the gift of Jesus through Jesus himself takes place. It is a celebration in which the priest configures Jesus Christ and the people actively participate and join with him.

They came to believe
The twelve Apostles shared life with Jesus over a period of nearly three years from the time of his baptism in the River Jordan until his death, resurrection and ascension. The twelve Apostles had indeed left everything in order to follow Jesus in whom they recognized the Messiah, the one anointed and awaited and sent by God as had been proclaimed by their prophets of old.

And not only the twelve and other close disciples but also the holy women who accompanied Jesus on his many journeys and missions of preaching and provided for his needs and those of his apostles from their own resources had come to know Jesus very closely and because of their belief in him, they had dedicated their lives to serve him in his mission. Others too who had seen Jesus cure the deaf, the blind and the lame and restore many diseased people to health and raise the dead to life, came to believe in him. Many marveled at his words and said that no one had ever spoken with such authority as Jesus did. And they came to follow him.

Appears to frightened apostles
After the crucifixion, death and entombment of Jesus on Friday, the day before the Sabbath, the apostles were in fear of the Jews who had killed him and were in hiding behind closed doors. And on that first Easter Sunday evening Jesus appears in their midst and greets them, “Peace be with you”. They are taken by surprise but overjoyed at seeing Jesus. However, the apostle Thomas was not with them when Jesus appeared to them; and when Thomas came, the other apostles told him that they have seen Jesus who is indeed alive and had appeared to them. Thomas did not believe them. He said, “Unless I see the marks of the nails in his hands and put my finger on those scars and touch his pierced side with my hands, I will not believe”. Later the disciples were together again indoors and Thomas was with them. The doors were locked, but Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you”. And he calls out to Thomas, “Thomas, see my hands; put your finger here, touch the wound on my pierced side. Do not doubt, but believe that it is I. And Thomas answered, “My Lord and My God”. And Jesus tells him, “Do you believe because you see me? More blessed are they who have not seen me and yet believe.” (cf Gospel of John 20.24-27). Many years later the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Colossians testifies and tells the apostolic Christian community: “In him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily” (Col. 2:9).

Today’s Christians have not seen Jesus face to face as his first Apostles and disciples did. Yet they have come to believe on the testimony of the Apostles and evangelists who bear witness to Jesus and speak so convincingly of him. The testimony of the apostles and their lives of great courage that witness to the truth of what Jesus said and did have convinced many billions of people over the centuries and challenged them to make their lives like that of Jesus of Nazareth.

Jesus, a human being like us
Easter is the great feast in which we celebrate the resurrection from the dead of a human being who was unjustly judged and summarily condemned to death. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is an event of human history attested to by reliable witnesses who were so impressed that they themselves laid down their lives to prove the truth of the resurrection which is also a pledge of the resurrection of all believers in Jesus. Jesus had said to Martha, the sister of his friend Lazarus, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die” (John 11.25). That new way of life has been transmitted to us through baptism, which is the embodiment of the evangelized neophyte in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Harbingers and promoters of truth
Christians converted to the new way of life epitomized and modeled on the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, were exhorted by St Paul ‘to die to self’ to ‘put on Christ’ (Rom 6.8), to have ‘the mind of Christ’ (Rom.13.14), to follow Christ as he himself did (1Cor 11.1). He exhorted them to be harbingers and promoters of whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, is excellent or praiseworthy.

Not only as individual but also as communities Christians should be conscious of their civic and social responsibilities and be exemplary in following the command of Jesus “Love one another as I have loved you” (Jn 13.34; 15.12). Rising to new life, Jesus Christ silently but powerfully demonstrated the utter meaningless and vacuity of viciousness, of unreason, wickedness and evil and the ultimate triumph of innocence, goodness, truth, justice and righteousness.

Let us all strive to bring about through frank dialogue a new awakening and understanding among all towards a transformation of human minds, hearts and spirits to make our Country a united and peaceful family and contribute to make the world a more harmonious global village.
“Sevaka Sevana”, Bandarawela

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