Easter, the foundation of Christianity | Sunday Observer

Easter, the foundation of Christianity

21 April, 2019

Christians the world over celebrate Easter today. It marks the triumphant rising of Jesus from death paving the way for a new life to those who believe in Him. As St. Paul says, “And if Christ has not been raised your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.” The resurrection is the foundation of Christianity.

Easter takes precedence over all events in the life of a Christian who has been called to transcend above petty mundane values which obstructs the path to unite with God.

However, the fervour in the preparation for Easter fades away after Good Friday, similar to the way the apostles went about after the death of their Master.

Thus we all need an ‘Emmaus’ experience to recognise the Risen Lord in us and begin a new apostolic journey. The apostles who were touched by the Risen Lord were witness to Him and on their blood the roots of Christianity grew. Let’s take a moment today to pause for a while and ask ourselves if we are witnesses to the Lord as the apostles were, to spread the Good News to those around us.

Easter may not have the glamour and glitter as in the celebration of Christmas. But it is the summit of all celebrations which should be marked with overwhelming joy as Jesus has allayed the fear of death and bridged the gap between God and man.

Jesus is the bridge and the only way to reach God. Easter restores the bond between God and His people that was shattered due to sin. We are called to be an ‘Easter People’ with renewed hope and vigor to love and serve the Lord who humbled himself taking the form of a servant. The apostolic calling is all about being a servant to the other. Do we serve others or do we expect others to serve us?

The life of Saints such as Mother Teresa, St. Francis of Assisi and world leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela are icons that changed the world through selfless service to better the world.

The task on all Christians is enormous. Let us pledge before the Risen Lord to light up the world around us with truth, peace and justice. Let’s be just in a world of injustice, honest where there is insincerity and deception, love where there is hatred and jealousy and kind to the broken hearted. We could then make the world a better place, the home that God created for Him and His children.

The earliest Christians celebrated the resurrection on the fourteenth of Nisan (our March-April), the date of the Jewish Passover. Jewish days were reckoned from evening to evening, so Jesus had celebrated His Last Supper the evening of the Passover and was crucified the day of the Passover.

Early Christians celebrated the Passover by worshiping Jesus as the Paschal Lamb and Redeemer.

Gentile Christians began celebrating Easter in the nearest Sunday to the Passover since Jesus actually arose on a Sunday. This especially became the case in the western part of the Roman Empire. In Rome itself, different congregations celebrated Easter on different days!

Many felt that the date should continue to be based on the timing of the Resurrection during Passover. Once Jewish leaders determined the date of Passover each year, Christian leaders could set the date for Easter by figuring three days after Passover. Following this schedule would have meant that Easter would be a different day of the week each year, only falling on a Sunday once in a while.

Others believed since the Lord rose on a Sunday and this day had been set aside as the Lord’s Day, this was the only possible day to celebrate His resurrection. As Christianity drew away from Judaism, some were reluctant to base the Christian celebration on the Jewish calendar.

Constantine wanted Christianity to be totally separated from Judaism and did not want Easter to be celebrated on the Jewish Passover.

The Council of Nicea accordingly required the feast of the resurrection to be celebrated on a Sunday and never on the Jewish Passover. Easter was to be the Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox.

Since the date of the vernal equinox changed from year to year, calculating the proper date can be difficult. This is still the method used to determine Easter today, which is why some years we have Easter earlier than other years.