Easter Sunday is one of the favorite holidays not only in the United States but in other countries as well. However, it appears that the real essence of Easter has been changed by its commercial dimension. It has been highly commercialized for sometime now instilling in us particularly the kids that Easter Sunday is about fun and fancy with candies, baskets, bunnies, jellies, plastic things and other egg hunting related activities. While interesting and fancy activities may bring joy to kids and families on Easter Sunday, we have to be reminded that its spiritual aspect (e.g. hearing mass, etc. ) should be given the topmost priority in the list of Easter spring activities.
I recall one time I thought of many things on how to make my CCD class more meaningful to young boys and girls for their Easter celebration. At first, I pondered on baking cookies for them as a reward for being attentive in class. However, I chose to show them a 30-minute animated movie about Christ’s Resurrection, entitled “He is Risen”. I felt that was one way of making the kids understand very well what happened to Jesus during His last days on earth and His resurrection. When they entered the classroom, they were eager to ask me what was in store for them during that particular day, as if they didn’t have any idea at all. When I started playing the CD, some of them were a bit frustrated because I knew they were expecting some other interesting Easter fun stuff. But when it showed the part on the Road to Calvary (The Way of the Cross) including the Resurrection, their eyes were glued on the TV monitor, somehow absorbed in the story and appeared serious, particularly during the 7 Last Words especially with the lights and sound effects of the movie.
After the show and even before I made clarifications on some of their queries, I noticed one of the boys looked sober and in the verge of tears. I was afraid then but I bravely asked him why. His eyes were so sad while saying this, “I miss my Dad, he’s gone forever”. I was sorry that the movie reminded him of his father; it made an impact on him. I sympathize with how the boy felt at that time but I assured him that his Dad is safe and happy with God in Heaven; that he will see him someday when the time comes, just like everyone else will be reunited with their loved ones (not putting much emphasis on the terms and conditions on how each one of us can go to heaven). My focus at that time was to make the boy happy and regain control of his young sad emotions.
Candidly speaking, I was also at a loss on how to respond to the young boy at that point in time, on how Jesus’ Resurrection could have an impact on him, or could be relevant to his father’s death, to his living family and to people’s lives. My limited knowledge tells me that Christ’s Resurrection is primarily a blessing which gives us hope and joy, a blessing which gives us a chance to overcome our frailties and sufferings, making us victorious in the end. The recitation and renewal of our baptismal vows on Easter Sunday reinforces the commitment to our catholic faith, making Jesus’ Resurrection at the heart and the pillar of our faith. It reminds us of God’s love for mankind and for us to love God in return by following His commandments.
Pope Francis, in one of his catechetical instructions given at St. Peter’s square, shared his reflections on the meaning of salvation and how Resurrection mean for our lives. The Holy Father indicated that without Christ’s Resurrection , our faith would be in vain. He said, “Our faith is based on the death and resurrection of Christ, just like a house build on foundation: if they give in, the whole house collapses”.
The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ has brought us a wonderful promise: a rekindled love and a renewed life which need to be nurtured in order to grow and thrive and so in the end, can be shared to others. Pope Francis further said that our relationship with God “is not like a treasure to be kept in a corner of our lives. It must grow……that each day we must let Christ transform us and make us like Him; it means trying to live as Christians, trying to follow Him”, even in our weakest times.
Going back to the story, I remember I was teary-eyed as I left the classroom thinking about the young boy, but it was not sadness but tears of joy. I felt I was able to impart God’s love to the child through Christ Resurrection, giving him hope and inspiration at the thought that there is heaven where he could see his father someday.
As we commemorate on the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, we may celebrate it with great joy, for “this is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.” A happy and blessed Easter to one and all!
Note: This article has been published earlier in the Filipino Catholic. With the author’s permission.