How do you explain to someone what Easter is all about? I was thinking about this the other day and then it came to me as I was trying to read the Apostles’ Creed in Spanish (I have been trying to improve my knowledge of Spanish if you were wondering). The words that jumped out at me were the following: “… suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried; He descended into hell; on the third day he rose again from dead; he ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.” In these few words we have a description of what we do as we celebrate the Easter ceremonies.
”Suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was bur-ied” In these words the early church captured one of their earliest and strongest memories of Jesus. How he was tortured by Pilate’s soldiers, crucified until he died and was buried. This is what we shall listen to on Good Friday.
Some today doubt that Jesus actually existed but the very existence of the Church that professes belief in him and the hardships Church people have endured because of their belief undermines completely any theory that would suggest the Jesus story is a concoction by the followers to give themselves something to do after his execution. There are also enough references to other historical figures like Pilate to anchor the events in history.
“He descended into hell” Jesus dies on Friday afternoon before the beginning of the Sabbath (Friday evening) and rises Sunday morning. Ancient tradition speaks of his descending into hell. This is not the hell of the devil and punishment, but more akin to Hades where people then believed the dead went. The first letter of St Peter speaks of his visiting the souls in prison which is taken to mean all the people who have died before him and have not been able to enter heaven because he had not yet opened the gates. He goes to see these ones first and welcome them home.
“on the third day he rose again from dead” Sunday morning the women go to the tomb and find it empty. They meet and speak with Jesus alive. There is continuity (the healed wounds) and discontinuity (not recognising him immediately). He is the same yet different. Death is no longer the end of our story. Human beings are created to live. Every Sunday, remembering the resurrection, we gather and do what Jesus did and allow ourselves to leave behind us everything that deadens us to life. What happened to Him happens to us.
“he ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty” The decision of the Trinity comes full circle with this image of Jesus returning to the Father whose will he always he followed and sitting in the position of ultimate authority. The alienation of humanity from the Creator is ended. We no longer have to grasp at straws to be in union with God. All we need do is accept Jesus as Lord and Saviour and be at home with God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
May this time of the resurrection be for all of you a time of rich blessing.
Fr Adrian Farrelly
|Apr 17, 2013||Easter Sunday||Listen||Download|