Apr 8, 2015
Etched in film memory of the 1940s is the scene in “Easter Parade” featuring Irving Berlin’s “In Your Easter Bonnet.” Wearing their new Easter outfits are the stars of the movie, Judy Garland and Fred Astaire. With others, they strut along Fifth Avenue singing the famous song. Even pet dogs, decked out in canine finery, prance along the Avenue with their owners.
In many cultures, Easter marks the time for special foods. Easter breads in different shapes and sizes are decorated with hard-boiled eggs placed in the center of the breads. Eggs, especially at Easter time, are a symbol of the resurrection, for while it is dormant, the egg contains new life within it. With other culinary delights, the breads grace the table, colorfully-decorated. Specially-prepared vegetables, rack of lamb symbolizing the Lamb of God as well as butter carved in the form of a triumphant lamb complete the table’s Easter delicacies.
New Life in Christ
Using the Passover feast to explain new life to the Corinthians, St. Paul tells them to “get rid of the old yeast and so that you may be the new batch of dough” (1 Cor 5:6). During the Paschal season, the Office of Readings in the Liturgy of the Hours emphasizes new life in Christ as opposed to the old way of living. Having been plunged into the waters of baptism, the new Christian, and we who renew our baptismal vows, are raised to new life. “Just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life” (Rom 6:4). Not only refreshed, we are ready to don the new Easter robe, a symbol of putting on Christ.
St. John Chrysostom (d 407) is considered the greatest preacher in the Early Church. His Baptismal Instructions use vivid imagery to make the teachings of the faith attractive and meaningful to his people. For this reason, he is called “golden-mouthed.” (Greek prefix, chrys, meaning gold or new.)
Chrysostom’s Baptismal Instructions would read like an ad for new clothes, except for the fact that he is speaking about donning the baptismal robe of new life in Christ. In each of the twelve instructions, he cannot stress enough the words of St. Paul, that through baptism, “all of you who were baptized into Christ have put on the wedding garment of Christ” (Gal 3:27). The soul becomes washed, metaphorically. He is fond of speaking about the beauty of the Christian’s new robe. By donning the majestic robe, the Christian is marked as a disciple of Christ. In this way, the Christian puts on the beauty and brilliance of Christ. Like Easter strollers along Fifth Avenue, the new Christian proudly ‘wears’ Christ but without fanfare. Didn’t Jesus command: “Let your light shine before men that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven” (Mt 5:16)? Good example needs no words.
Easter Is a Mindset
Easter is not a day but an attitude of mind. It is for this reason that the Church sets aside many weeks for us to bask in Christ’s glorious resurrection and to contemplate the meaning of new life in him. Great joy and exuberance characterize the liturgical readings at Mass and in the Liturgy of the Hours. The Lord has triumphed over death. And so shall we all, for we know that our Redeemer lives.
“We are Easter men and women, and alleluia is our song.” (St. Augustine)