April 17, 2022


Reflection for Easter Sunday, April 17, 2022 (John 20:1-18 or Luke 24:1-12)

By: The Rev. Victoria S. Esguerra
Retired Priest, Diocese of Greater Manila Area



JESUS IS RISEN INDEED! HALLELUJAH! The greatest feast for Christianity is Easter, the Day of Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.  This Resurrection Event – the raising of Jesus from the dead by God the Father -- is what clearly and definitively distinguishes the Christian faith from all other faiths in the world.  Although the word “Easter” is not found in the Bible, it is celebrated in the churches in festive tradition with the “Easter bunny and Easter egg hunt” in the western world.  The word “Easter,” from the Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring, “Eostre” or “Ishtar,” is the etymological origin according to the Melkite Greek Catholic Church.  It referred to the Norse goddess of fertility, the rabbit. Ishtar is another name for “Astarte,” and identified with the Canaanite goddess of fertility and war, “Astarte,” and worshipped in Egypt by the Hittites and Canaanites.  The holiday comes in early Spring and is related to “ancient fertility myths of reborn heroes.” (From: Gerald Weston, Easter the Untold Story, booklet published by the Living Church of God, 2018.)  

In the Philippines, Easter is celebrated with an Early Sunday Morning Worship Service by the Protestant Churches (NCCP), and for the Catholics (including the IFI) with the “Salubong,” a procession held in the early dawn to commemorate the [icons] meeting of Jesus and the Blessed Mother Mary after His Resurrection.  Many churches celebrating the feast of the Risen Christ (Jesus Resurreccion or “Pagkabuhay” as their “Patron Saint”) go through the festivities with pomp and circumstance, complete with musical/marching bands, street decors, and provisions of lavish food to welcome guests in the parishioners’ homes. Some churches also include gift-giving (like Christmas) and the Easter egg hunt for the children of parishioners.  Malls and commercial establishments are fully decorated with Easter decors – rabbits, decorated eggs, flowers (Easter lilies), etc. 


But what does Easter really mean to the Christians?  Without the Crucifixion of Jesus, there could not be any Easter.  Jesus had to accept the “CUP” of suffering destined by His Father for Him. In the Garden of Gethsemane, He prayed, “Father, take this cup away from me, but Your will shall be done.”  Jesus’ obedience to God the Father showed that by His being raised from the dead, He conquered death and redeemed humankind from sin. From a mortal body, He rose to an immortal glorified body.  From the darkness of the borrowed tomb, He shone to give eternal light in full everlasting glory with the Father.  His Resurrection was the redemptive climax of His three-year earthly ministry and the great manifestation of His faithfulness to all creation – the Way, the Truth, and the Light. From chaos, He brought forth order to the sinful world.  From suffering, He showed physical and spiritual healing. From darkness, He gave light bringing forth eternal truth, life and joy.


EMPTY TOMB:  The hewn rock covering the cave (tomb) was rolled away.  Jesus’ body was not found in the tomb; the tomb was empty. His disciples saw the unraveled linen cloth lying on the floor.  When the news spread that His body disappeared from the tomb, the chief priest and elders bribed the soldiers (who were on guard-duty) to lie and spread the false rumor that His disciples took the body away.  It was the angels who announced to His disciples that He had risen and would see Him in Galilee.

WOMEN WITNESSES: Mary Magdalene (faithful disciple, not a prostitute, but a wealthy woman of Magdala who financed and accompanied Jesus in His missionary journeys) was present and grieved at the foot of the Cross and the first person to whom Jesus appeared.  She and Mary of Cleopas, mother of James, went to the tomb in the early morning of the third day and intended to apply spices (form of embalmment) to the body of Jesus as this could not be done before His burial due to the onset of the Sabbath. They found the tomb empty!  Mary Magdalene, “trembled, astonished, and feared,” asked the strangers (angels) where they could have taken Jesus’ body. When Jesus appeared to her, she was in shock, but in awe, and wanted to touch Jesus who refused as it was not the proper time for Him.

MEN DISCIPLES:  Peter and John ran (both raced) to the tomb and also found the tomb empty.  Except for John who was faithful to the end (also present at the foot of cross), Peter and the other disciples were fearful and hid during His passion and crucifixion.  Despite their rejection, Jesus appeared to them several times and affirmed His forgiveness and love for them (including the doubting Thomas).  His messages were: “DO NOT BE AFRAID,” and “PEACE BE WITH YOU.”

FAITHFUL WORDS OF JESUS:  Before His impending passion and death, Jesus already explained to His disciples the following truths (but they did not believe Him): (1) “I will die” – Christ has died; (2) “I will be raised again” – Christ has risen; and (3) “I will be back” – Christ will come again. These truthful words are re-affirmed during the solemn part of the celebration of the Holy Eucharist in Christian churches throughout the world.


FAITHFUL TO SINNERS:  Jesus says, “I have come to you through the Incarnate Word of God [carnal body] and redeemed you with my body and blood; now how do you come to me?”  WE DO NOT COME TO JESUS: by flesh and blood – by worldly achievements and honors; by personal and political aggrandizement; by physical sacrifices heightened by commercialism and globalization; by idol worship at the Temple of Mammon; by highways and byways of physical grandeur and skyscrapers.  INSTEAD, WE COME TO JESUS, WITH SINFUL REPENTANT HEARTS: BY OBEDIENCE, HUMILITY, AND LOVE.

FAITHFUL TO THE ENDS OF THE AGE: Jesus’ Cross is the symbol of victory – overcoming death and sin – salvation through the Name of Jesus, Judge of Humanity.  His Resurrection is the Gift of the Spirit through the Church.  His promise that “I will be with you to the ends of the age” is accompanied by His commandment that “Go and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 28: 19-20) This is our baptismal covenant with the Lord as a sign of our mutual love and understanding with Him and one another.

EXALTATION IN GOD’S KINGDOM: The value of His Crucifixion and Resurrection is the exaltation of the Holy Name of Jesus and the Esteemed God the Father.  During Jesus’ crucifixion, the invitation extended to Dimas the thief while hanging on the cross, “Today you will be with me in paradise,” is likewise extended unto us; therefore, opening the Kingdom of God for us to join with the heavenly beings in blissful joy and abundance.  So, REJOICE CHRISTIANS, AS JESUS OUR LORD AND SAVIOR IS RISEN INDEED!



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