Today is Easter Sunday, a day that even in our very secular and neo-Pagan age, still resonates and influences routines, schedules, and lives well beyond the confines of the visible community of the Church. Granted, for some people that pretty much only involves passing on to their children the very non-scientific myth of the Easter Bunny, but even that is still a sign of the influence of the Feast. It is therefore a sign of the enduring power of the truth that Christ is Risen, He is Risen indeed!
The Resurrection of the Lord is not to be placed in the same category as the Easter Bunny. One is a historical and doctrinal fact. The other one is a fabrication that endures to this day only because it rode into our current era on the back of the powerful liturgical traditions that memorialize the Easter Story.
I point this out because along with the truth of the Resurrection has also always existed its doubters. The Scriptures are clear that the first Christians did encounter sometimes fierce opposition to their unwavering proclamation that Jesus of Nazareth had been raised from the dead. Not a mere resuscitated corpse (like Lazarus, for example). No, what the Christians professed was that Jesus had come back from the dead occupying an entirely new plane of existence, fully alive in a way that no one had ever seen before. The boldness of their proclamation, the consistency of their story, and their insistence on maintaining it even in the face of executioners is ample proof that they did not make this up.
To put it another way, no one is going to go to their death to defend the real existence of the Easter Bunny. But thousands and thousands have gone to their deaths proclaiming that Christ is alive. He has been raised. He has appeared to the Apostles. He has clothed them with power from on high.
Therefore, the voices of those in today’s world who claim that Christianity as a religion is founded on a myth about an empty tomb are not terribly original. True, there are appeals to “science” that exist today in a formulation that may not have existed before, but, the fact is that anyone who inspects a dead corpse, then or now, is a legitimate scientist. People know what dead is. And they also know when they have encountered something for which there is no earthly explanation, other than all the clues that prior divine revelation had left them.
The fact is that the Apostles had never seen the idea of a crucified Messiah coming until it hit them square in the face. Even more extraordinary would have been the idea of a resurrection. And yet, when both of these events really did come to pass, right in front of them, it forced them to go back and re-examine all that they had been taught because it was so life-altering. It forced them to leave behind, in a matter of only a few years, centuries and centuries of accepted rituals. It forced them to look at life (and death) in a completely different way. With the Resurrection in mind, suddenly several truths came into focus that had only been blurry before.
To say that Easter is a fabrication is to ignore the facts. It is to be unscientific in an apparently scientific age. To say, on the other hand, that Easter is real is to acknowledge, like the Apostles, that everything is different now. Christ is Risen. We have nothing to fear. A new life beckons to all of us. A new pathway has been opened up. And even the pagan stories about bunnies are still subject to His authority, so sweeping is its power. The Resurrection is not a myth, and I will gladly die for it, because in Christ I am already fully alive. With that, let us always be bold. A blessed Easter!