Easter Sunday: It’s Not About the Bunnies

I hope everyone is having an enjoyable Holy Week, whether you are traveling or staying here to enjoy the first taste of Spring weather in Oregon.  Although we will not have our usual Wednesday morning TMIY meeting, I thought I would share some thoughts from one of my favorite authors, James Martin, SJ.

Fr. Martin is a best-selling author of such books as “Between Heaven and Mirth: Why Joy, Humor and Laughter Are at the Heart of the Spiritual Life” and “The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything: A Spirituality for Real Life” and big Monty Python fan.  Fr. Martin may be best known for his writings and emphasizing humor as a central part of living the Gospel, whether it be bringing Cardinal Dolan and Stephen Colbert together for a lively discussion on spiritual humor last summer to a tongue-in-cheek campaign for pope last month.

However, two years ago, Fr. Martin wrote a very powerful article in the Washington Post on how one quiet Sunday morning almost 2,000 years ago changed the history of the world and continues to have a dramatic effect on billions of people today.  An excerpt is set forth below, but I encourage you to read the entire article here.

“It’s not about bunnies. It’s not about coloring eggs. It’s not about chocolate. It’s not about flowers. It’s not even about spring or signs of “new life” in nature after a long winter. So what is Easter about?

It’s about something almost terrifyingly serious: Jesus rose from the dead.

That’s one reason why Easter hasn’t been completely subsumed by the consumer culture. (Though department stores and cheesy movies like “Hop” try their best to do so.) Christmas, which can be cast as the cozy story of Mary and Joseph and their little baby Jesus surrounded by cuddly animals in a manger, is easily domesticated. Easily tamed. More easily sold to the masses.

Easter, on the other hand, is untameable. The man whose followers imagined him to be the Messiah, the one who would forcefully, even violently, deliver them from the hands of their oppressors (For isn’t that what the Baptist said?) was tried, beaten and executed like a common thug. What’s more, after the crucifixion the Gospels portray the disciples not as stalwart stewards of their master’s legacy, but as abject cowards, cowering behind locked doors for fear of someone trying to arrest them.

Then on Easter Sunday everything changes

* * * 

And what Jesus said during his earthly ministry (love one another, pray for your enemies, give to the poor) now takes on added meaning for the disciples.

Easter is not about bunnies or chocolate or eggs. It is an event that makes a claim on you. Either you believe that Jesus did not rise from the dead (or his body was stolen, or the Gospels are made up, or the disciples simply “remembered” him and passed on his message). Or you believe he was raised from the dead. In which case everything changes for you, too.”

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