Easter and Lent
by Victor Hoagland, C.P.
Note: 2009 readings are from the "B" cycle of the Lectionary
Easter is Christianity’s
most ancient and important yearly feast. By the 3rd century a preparatory
season of forty days — Lent — was joined to this holy time.
What do these
the death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, “powerful in word and
deed”, who was seized and crucified by his enemies during the Passover
feast in Jerusalem. On Easter morning he rose from the dead, appearing
to his followers and assuring them of God’s favor. Easter recalls these
A New Passover
From the outset
Christians recognized God’s hand in what happened. Early on Jesus’ followers,
taught by the Risen Lord himself, interpreted his death and resurrection
in the light of the Exodus story. “Christ our Passover lamb has been
sacrificed.” (1 Corinthians 5:7)
The ancient Jewish
Pasch was fulfilled in Christ. The lamb sacrificed by the Jews in Egypt
was a sign from God of their redemption from slavery. Jesus’ sacrificed
life now offered all people an escape from death and a way to freedom.
Jesus, a new Moses,
would lead a new people, his church, through desert trials to a heavenly
kingdom. On their journey he offered them the water of eternal life
and bread from heaven. He would be with his church always.
Believe and be baptized
“Believe and be
baptised” was the message his disciples announced to people throughout
the world. Their stories of Jesus’ life and teaching, the “Good News” that was his gospel, brought people everywhere to believe in Jesus Christ
as Savior and Redeemer. And they baptised those who believed in water
and the Holy Spirit.
Today Lent and
Easter are times for hearing the “Good News” once more and celebrating
the sacraments that are signs of the power of Christ’s death and resurrection.
They remind us of our great journey with Christ. Once more these seasons
call us to believe and recall our baptismal life.
The Roman Catholic
Church celebrates the Lenten season from Ash Wednesday to the Mass of
Holy Thursday. The Easter feast is celebrated from Holy Thursday evening
till Easter Sunday, then through the Easter season which lasts till
the feast of Pentecost.