Religion with Richard Bleil
Let me open by saying Happy Easter, and to all of my Non-Christian readers and friends, I hope you have a truly wonderful Sunday.
Although I’m probably the wrong man to be discussing this, I thought I’d go through the story of Christ, and what Christians believe, or at least what I was taught that they believed. But to be fair, my parents used to stuff my Easter basket with chocolate geld, a Jewish chocolate treat (the little chocolate coins wrapped in foil). But, Jewish or not, they are delicious.
So, we have, in the Christian faith, several big holidays. Christmas celebrates the birth of Christ, and his trip to the mall to buy expensive gifts and spoil his children. In fact, the Three Wise Men actually brought gifts to Christ in his manger (gold, incense and myrrh, a balm). The tradition of giving gifts and Christmas is most likely inspired by these gifts.
As a quick aside, I much prefer birthday gift giving. In essence, I believe that the birthday gift tradition is more of a celebration that brings our family and friends into our lives. It’s a way of saying that you are important, and I’m glad you are here with us today.
Anyway, fast forward to Easter. Through is life, Christ was believed to have roamed the lands, preaching of love, charity and humility, all of the things that seems to irritate far too many people who call themselves Christian today. No, not all Christians (as I’m sure I’ll be hearing from many of my Christian friends), but the reality is that true Christians do follow the teachings of humility. My favorite Christians are the ones that practice charity, giving and self-sacrifice without ever revealing their religious nature. These are the Christians I like the best, but they’re also the silent majority. The Christians giving the faith a bad name are the most vocal, which makes the entire faith look bad.
Wow, did THAT paragraph take a turn.
Anyway, on first glance (and what I never understood as a child), it looks like Easter celebrates Christ’s execution and death. There was really nothing special about Christ’s torture as, back then, crucifixion was the standard execution method. It was meant to be torturous, fatal and to send a message to those who might oppose the leaders. So why celebrate that?
The answer is that, had it not been for his persecution (and eventual death), we would not have Christianity today. Yes, Judas, as much as my Christian friends might hate hearing this, was sort of a hero. His betrayal allowed the Roman troops to locate Christ and arrest him. A mockery of a trial later, and he was being crucified. And yet, through his betrayal, his torture and his death are many lessons that are so critical to the Christian faith, lessons of a gentle strength and faith in God (which Christianity teaches is Christ’s father).
But Easter is not really about his death. In fact, it’s rather more important than that. Christ promised to return, so, as the story goes, his lifeless body was placed in a cave, the entrance of which was blocked with a great boulder, and guards were placed on it. Christ predicted the date he would rise again, so to prove that Christ had no holy power, they promised to unseal the cave on that day so the followers could see that his body was still there, and still lifeless.
Boy did THAT backfire.
On unsealing the cave, or so the story goes, Christ’s body was no longer there. Then, an apparition of Christ’s image appeared, proving that he had, indeed, risen in spiritual form. The apparition spoke to those who were present to witness the miracle, according to the stories, speaking of faith in God, and of love. This is at the heart of not just Easter, but of Christianity itself.
Easter is not a celebration of the death of Christ, but rather, of Christ’s resurrection. It’s taken as proof that those who lead a just and good life will be resurrected and ascend to heaven, just as Christ had done. I am not here to discuss the validity of these beliefs. Who am I to judge other? But I do believe it is important for us to understand each other, and Easter is a critical part of Christian belief, arguably more than Christmas. Yes, without his birth, there would be no Christianity, but, on the other hand, without his betrayal, without his suffering, and without this miracle, we wouldn’t have Christianity either.