By Helena Rodriguez: Freedom Newspapers
And then he bowed his head and died.
John 19:30 sounds like a great ending to a dramatic story, but for billions of Christians worldwide, it marks a new beginning. The veil of the sanctuary was torn in two. The earth quaked, rocks were split, tombs were open and the bodies of many saints who had fallen asleep were raised.
Never before or after in history has the death of one man been so powerful, so influential, so divisive and yet so uniting as the death of Jesus Christ more than 2,000 years ago. And it all started on this day, a day we now commemorate as Good Friday, a day of darkness when he was hung on the cross, but which turned to joy when he was resurrected on Easter Sunday.
That’s deep, I know, and it should be. But as I look back at my first memories of Easter, they were nothing like this. My first Easter memories are of the strong scent of vinegar, dying hard-boiled eggs and the excitement of loading up in the car and driving to the sand hills of Oasis State Park for a day-long picnic with family and friends.
As I entered my latter years of grade-school, Easter turned into a shopping spree. It was one of the few times a year in which my sisters and I got new clothes.
Then in high school, the kickoff to Easter was on Good Friday, which we saw as a day off from school.
In my early adulthood, when I became a mother at age 22, Easter then became about buying my daughter Laura a cute outfit, white shoes and a colorful bonnet with flowers, I would have to fight with her and bribe her to wear it until after the egg hunt.
Throughout my life, I also associated Easter time with no meat on Fridays during Lent. That’s when Grandma Emma, Aunt Patsy and Mom would pull out their famous salmon—patty recipes. It also meant a 40-day fast from whatever treat we chose to give up for Lent that year. So on Easter Sunday, we were excited to enjoy the treat again. I also remember Grandma Emma’s stories on how Lent in her days meant no dances or music at all.
In Grandma Emma’s days, Lent was about sacrifice. In our days, it came to be about commercialism. These days, it seems to be about sensationalism. I have gotten annoyed this year with CNN and History Channel Easter specials like “What Does it Mean to be Christian?” and their sensational questions like, “Was he really raised from the dead?” “Is a recent grave discovery that of Jesus?” “Did he marry and have children?” And then inevitably, this leads commentators back to the “Da Vinci Code,” a fictional book and movie, which many want to take as proven history despite the fact that the author clearly states it is fiction.
I caught myself still stuck in this commercialistic version of Easter the other day. Laura purchased a cute pair of white, strap-up heel sandals and I said, “You know the rules of fashion. No white until Easter!” But then I thought aloud, “Well … you know, Jesus wears white year-round.”
So just like the saying “Every day is Christmas,” Christians can celebrate Easter every day, too, because we believe in the resurrection.
And on the third day he rose from the dead.
Helena Rodriguez is a columnist for Freedom Newspapers of New Mexico. She can be reached at: