Good News

  • March 18, 2008

{mosimage}Lent started early in February and Easter has arrived even as Canada, at least in Toronto enivrons, is still struggling to shake off winter. The crocuses and snowbells have only just begun to do their annual teasing that warm weather is finally on its way, and suddenly, it’s Easter.

In March, across much of central Canada, people are enjoying the annual maple syrup harvest, heading off to the bush to partake of the rich, sugary concoction. The snow shovels, after receiving a heavy-duty workout over the last few months, are being put away. Amidst this busyness, Easter has come.

Of course, no one should be surprised. The most important day of the year for Christians has been in the calendars for ages. Yet it comes this year when the usual trappings of Easter — warm weather, perhaps a bit of sunshine — haven’t signalled to us their usual call to celebrate.

In an odd way, we are reminded of the first Easter. It was more than just an unexpected event — it was an earthshaking shock. Jesus risen from the dead!? Though His enemies had anticipated the possibility that Jesus’ followers would attempt to engineer some hoax that would create a resurrection myth, they were still not prepared for the reality. Or for what followed.

He is risen! The disciples were certainly amazed; the Apostle Thomas refused to believe it until he had seen Jesus with his own eyes. And many were not ready to believe Mary Magdalene when she reported that Jesus’ body had disappeared from the tomb. It took the testimonies of Peter and John to melt their own skepticism. Of course, even as the Good News spread far and wide from Jerusalem, many still refused to believe it — and do not believe today.

It all seems so absurd, really, so unnecessary, for non-Christians. Yet for Christians, the Resurrection is a central dogma; a confirmation that God has kept His promise of salvation for the entire world. As St. Peter says, “if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have died in Christ have perished. If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied” (1 Cor. 15:17-19).

The Passion and crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth were the inevitable result of a life and mission that issued a challenge too far for those who ruled in first-century Jerusalem. Jesus’ life-giving model and teaching could not be tolerated. And even today, our culture, though no longer crucifying people on trees, continues to be intolerant of those who offer an alternative vision of the world — one encompassing far, far greater hope than that offered by Hollywood and Madison Avenue.

Christ’s death and resurrection are the keys to our own freedom from this vale of tears. Like those early crocuses peaking out of the snow, they confirm that God keeps His promises.

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