COLUMNS

Outtakes: He has risen on this awakening holiday

Frank Weaver Jr.
Suburbanite correspondent
Frank Weaver Jr.

Whether you celebrate Easter religiously or in a secular manner, you have to agree it's an awakening holiday. With warm spring weather and the sun usually shining brightly, it's invigorating. To me it says, “You've made it through winter. Now expect warm Easter weather to soothe your body and nourish your soul.”

Like Christmas Midnight Mass, I love attending Easter Sunday Mass. Those who don't attend church services, I never criticize. To me, religion is a very private matter. It's what I believe.

Our constitution guarantees us freedom of religion. It also protects those who choose not to practice a religion. The government cannot interfere.

The United States was colonized by those who were persecuted for their religious beliefs. Throughout all the years this country has been on its own, time and again, the U.S. Supreme Court has struck down laws that permitted governmental interference in religion.

Of the three major religions descending from Abraham (Judaism, Christianity and Islam), Christianity may be the most challenging. You need a strong faith to remain a strong Christian.

Christianity's New Testament commences with a Jewish baby born of a virgin, named Jesus. It continues with that same child in the Temple at the age of 12, explaining to the wisest of wise men the meaning of the Torah (the first five books of the old testament).

About the age of 30, it tells of Him on a mountain for forty days fighting the temptations of Satan before submitting Himself to John the Baptist to be baptized in the River Jordan. To 12 men, his Apostles, he tells them, “Follow me.”

Three years later, that same Jesus is crucified and buried. Three days after he rises from the dead. Forty days after that He ascends body and soul into heaven. Ten days later the Holy Spirit of God descends upon the apostles in the form of doves and bestows upon them the gift of tongues to spread among many languages what Jesus taught them.

Within those last three years, Jesus performed enough acts for every man, woman and child to become convinced that if he wasn't God, He was as close to any as many will ever see.

Among those many miracles, the New Testament says he changed water into wine and gave sight to a blind man. After turning a handful of fish and few loaves of bread into enough food to feed 5,000 who had been following him, they had much more left over than they needed. He raised Lazarus from the dead, made a lame man walk, cured another of leprosy and walked on water.

The Bible also says that after the Resurrection, body and soul, Jesus appeared before Mary Magdalene and, with the exception of Thomas, who doubted others when told Jesus was alive, appeared in person on that first Easter Sunday before his disciples. So as to leave no doubt, he took time to return when Thomas was there and ask him to put his finger into the holes the nails made when the Romans crucified him on the cross.

Doubting, Thomas did so. He fell to his knees and held the hands of Jesus. With tears streaming down his cheeks, he whispered, “My Lord and my God!”

These are the events the New Testament records as having happened 2,000 years ago. And these are the miracles on which Christianity is based. Think about it. Religion or no religion, that's a lot for anyone to believe. It may be one reason why a practicing Christian's faith must remain strong.

My faith strengthens, however, whenever the Shroud (the burial cloth in which Jesus is said to have been wrapped) of Turin's updated examinations result in another positive test.

More importantly, it's that proclaimed miracle of Jesus, rising from the dead, that is the foundation of the Christian religion and the reason we celebrate the sacred holiday of Easter.

Comments may be emailed to: Frankweaverjr@aol.com