It’s Easter Sunday. For those of you who only know Easter as a day for bunnies and chocolate, I’ll try to explain origin of Easter.
It started with the Jews. They were all the time sacrificing bulls and lambs to God in order to atone for their sins. It sounds barbaric, but there’s some logic to it. If you’ve done something wrong, like stole your neighbor’s plow, you ought to be held accountable. You know good and well you shouldn’t have taken his plow. When you feel guilty enough, or you get caught, you’d take a lamb to the High Priest to be sacrificed – the lamb died for your sins. It was a high price to pay back then, so it served as a deterrent for stealing as well as a way to relieve your guilt.
Unless you’re a psychopath, most humans will eventually feel guilt for hurting another person – maybe not until they’re on their deathbed, but sooner or later they’ll say, “I regret that I…” or “I wish I hadn’t…” If a person is forced to publically admit their crime and give up a lamb for what they’d done, they wouldn’t have to carry all that guilt on their shoulders for years. It’s genius, really. Instant justice so people could get on with their lives. Maybe they’d stop being jerks too.
Which brings me to Easter. The Jews, around 2,000 years ago, had gone through a lot of rulers who set bad examples, and they’d done a LOT of misbehaving. They worshipped other gods, sinister gods that wanted them to have sex with temple prostitutes or sacrifice their own children. I’m not saying all Jews went astray because there were always good people in the Bible and some (called prophets) tried to tell others how wrong these things were. Unfortunately, they usually got killed.
Still, God loved the Jews. Sure, he’d get mad at them but he always gave them another chance because he’s merciful and good. You can boil all his rules down to these two things – first, love God, and second, love all other humans. He gave Moses the Ten Commandments to show them what not to do to others – like don’t kill people or sleep with their wives or steal from them or lie about them. Also love your parents and take care of yourself by resting on the Sabbath (or Sunday for us non-Jews, i.e., Gentiles). It’s all good advice and a very simple formula for a happy life.
But being humans, we want to sleep with someone else’s wife. That has the domino effect of breaking up the family so children are crying and the new woman turns out to be the same kind of nag you just left and now we’re having to pay shrinks to fix our kids as a result of the turmoil.
Oh yeah, Easter. A couple thousand years ago the Jews were a mess so God sent his son, Jesus, to earth to help them. Jesus went around healing people – the blind, the lame, and doing miracles like walking on water. He told people stories, called parables, so they’d know how to love each other and help those less fortunate – good Christian values. He drew huge crowds, thousands, and the Jewish religious leaders got jealous (human nature again). They talked the Romans (Pontius Pilate) into crucifying Jesus, and that’s why he got nailed to a cross. Then, on Easter, Jesus rose from the dead, visited his followers (called Apostles), explained that he died for people’s sins, the Lamb of God, as it were. Hundreds of people saw him, one named doubting Thomas stuck his fingers into the holes of Jesus’ hands where he’d been nailed to the cross.
The reason Catholics, Baptists, Methodists, Pentecostals, Episcopals and other Christian religions are so happy about about Easter is because, when a Christian steals a plow and then later feels remorse about it, he doesn’t bring a lamb to the priest or minister, because Jesus is the way a Christian atones for his sins against others. Basically a Christian says, “I done somebody wrong. I feel bad about it. I ask forgiveness in the name of Jesus, the lamb who died for my sins. I will try to be a better person from now on and figure out some other way to plow my field, or become a internet guru and make millions and buy my own.”
As a Catholic, I’m sorry that Jesus suffered so much. To show my sorrow, I give up something for Lent (40 days from Ash Wednesday to Easter). Whenever I do something to hurt another person, I ask God to forgive me, in the name of Jesus, and I get the burden of my mistake off of me. That forgiveness makes me more inclined to forgive others and love them. And when I’m not so inclined, I can ask Jesus for help because he lived for 33 years as a human. He gets what I’m going through.
That’s why I can say, with enthusiasm and conviction, Happy Easter, everyone! Plus my husband is preparing a feast like you would not believe! And I got chocolate for the first time in 40 days. Thank you, Lord!!!!!