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Good Friday

Easter portrays the song of new life

Good Friday commemorates Christ’s suffering and agony and death on the cross, a death which is the divine assurance that he died to save mankind from sin

Rev. Dr. Dominic Savio, SJ | Published 16.04.22, 08:49 AM
Prayer: Over 500 people attended the Good Friday worship service and meditation of Jesus’s Seven Words from the Cross at St Paul’s Cathedral. The service was held in English and Bengali. At the Church of Christ the King in Park Circus, the parish priest said the “faithful were happy to be back in the church for an in-person service”.

Prayer: Over 500 people attended the Good Friday worship service and meditation of Jesus’s Seven Words from the Cross at St Paul’s Cathedral. The service was held in English and Bengali. At the Church of Christ the King in Park Circus, the parish priest said the “faithful were happy to be back in the church for an in-person service”.

Picture by Gautam Bose

The festival of Easter is without a doubt one of the most important festivals in the Christian calendar. It comes as the culmination of Lent, the 40-day period before Easter, observed with prayer, penance, fasting and almsgiving.

Holy Week begins on Maundy Thursday, the day of the Last Supper when Jesus washed the feet of his disciples, setting the example of loving service in humility by those in authority.

Good Friday commemorates Christ’s suffering and agony and death on the cross, a death which is the divine assurance that he died to save mankind from sin.

Holy Saturday, which is spent in prayer and Bible reading, is followed by the culmination of the festival on Easter Sunday, which is the joyful celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

Early on Easter Sunday morning, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene and some other women went to the tomb. They saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance and that an angel dressed in white and whose appearance was like lightning, was seated where Jesus’s body had been laid. The Angel said to them: “You seek him who was crucified. He has risen as he said. See the place where he lay. Then go and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead” (Matthew 28:5-7).

The women fled from the tomb overcome with trembling and astonishment, and that was when Jesus met them and said: “Hail!” They took hold of his feet and worshipped him (Matthew 28: 9-10). Then Jesus said to them: “Go tell my brethren that they depart into Galilee, and there shall they see me.”

What is the message of Easter for us?

The story of Easter is laden with meaning.

It is the message of God's love for the world. Because of his infinite love, Jesus Christ came to save the world, being born into our pain, suffering and death. He conquered mortality to give us strength to go through the trials of life and to resurrect us into a new birth and a new hope in the life beyond.

The resurrection of Jesus from the dead is at the very core of the Christian gospel. According to St Paul, Christian preaching and hope would be in vain if Jesus had not been raised. The disciples would have continued in despair and without direction, but having touched His wounds, and having eaten and drunk with Him, the resurrection became the foundation of everything they said and did.

Indeed, Easter is an affirmation of our belief that death is not final and that we can be born into the glorious new life beyond to dwell with God in eternal joy, happiness and peace. Easter, very simply, affirms that in the midst of darkness we can yet achieve the light.

So, while we celebrate Easter, we should not forget the message that is encoded into it: that life will triumph over sin, evil, death, that light will overcome darkness, as joy will overcome sorrow, and eternity will overcome mortality. Easter tells us that God is ever-present with us, in all our struggles over sin and evil.

And let us not forget the symbolism of Easter. Resurrection is a return from death; it is therefore like a rebirth into a new life. So, when we celebrate Easter, symbolically we recognise that we can die to our old way of living and resurrect into our new life with Christ. And this is integral to the Christian faith: if we believe that Jesus was raised from the dead, we will be saved. And that is the gift of Easter: it is the gift of Peace, the gift of hope eternal. The greatest gift of God to man.

It is so much like the season of Spring. Spring is like the rebirth of the world. New life springs up all around us. The cold and dark of Winter have been overcome by the joy and light of Spring. Easter is like that. Jesus died on the cross but God raised him up to a life of newness in all ways. So also, we, who are touched and transformed by Easter, we too must die on the cross of our selfishness and shortcomings and be raised up in mind, heart and soul, becoming new creations of God. And that is the gift of Easter for each of us who believe.

A gift is something precious and beautiful. A gift can so easily be thrown away in the dust heap of ingratitude. But when a gift is given, it should be honoured and valued, which is why we must remember that a gift requires something of us in return. The gift of Easter, which is the gift of new life, requires that we rise to the noble and glorious challenge to make everything new all around us. As God makes us new, transforming us into his image and likeness, so also must we work with God to make his creation, humanity and everything around us ever new. The gift of Easter is the gift of vision and power to see the world anew and change the world anew and make it truly this beautiful earth, a harbinger of the beautiful kingdom in the life beyond.

  • Rev. Dr. Dominic Savio is the principal of St Xavier’s College (Autonomous), Kolkata
Last updated on 16.04.22, 08:49 AM
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