Easter is the most important Christian celebration. It outranks Christmas as without the Resurrection there is no point in celebrating the birth of Jesus. It is the bodily return from the dead that underpins all faith. As Saint Paul said “and if Christ be not risen, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain”. Thus the build up to Easter is particularly solemn.
The Church prepares for this event by the self-denial of Lent, our forefathers were much more rigorous than we are and one of my children wanted to give up school for Lent which is not quite the point. Nonetheless, the changes to the Liturgy and the sombre tone at Mass encourages some preparation.
This intensifies in Holy Week which starts with Palm Sunday when the Passion is read and palms distributed. This is a reminder that Christ was welcomed into Jerusalem as a hero not as a criminal. However, by the Last Supper, commemorated on Maundy Thursday, our Lord knew that the hour was at hand and that he was to be betrayed and killed.
Early on Good Friday Christ prepared himself in the Garden of Gethsemane and then went boldly to his degrading, criminal’s death. He descended into Hell but by doing so destroyed the power of death and rose triumphant back to life. This astonished his friends and disciples, Mary Magdalene did not recognise him and Saint Thomas did not believe.
Saint Thomas then put his hand into Christ’s side and did believe saying “my Lord, and my God”. This is a help to all who follow to have faith and through the Church to achieve salvation. Deo Gratias.