As kids in a Catholic elementary school, we were told that the most important holiday of the year was Easter. This was hard for us to believe. Christmas vacation was two weeks and Easter vacation was only one. On Christmas, we received gifts. As we got a little older, we were able find the delight of giving. The joyful expressions of parents, siblings, grandparents and friends displayed when opening the (often useless and meaningless) gifts we gave them, was gratifying.
As we matured through high school and beyond, we began to get just an inkling of the greater meaning of Easter. As Christians, we were beginning to become aware that Christmas is the holiday of hope for the coming Resurrection that the baby Jesus represents. Easter is the fulfillment of that hope. As we matured and got married, we lost some of our narcissism and began to think of others. When we had kids, we began to see what sacrifice was about.
Some of us worked two or more jobs to keep our families better housed and fed. We gave up nights out for dinner, cut back on professional sports games and rock concerts. Instead, we went to our kids soccer/baseball/football and basketball games as well as school plays and dance and music recitals. While we may have missed some of our carefree past activities, we gained the joy of watching our kids perform their activities. While doing these things, our love for our spouses and families grew.
Every family does have difficulties and trials that must be overcome. We usually become closer when we have worked through these tribulations. The true meaning of love is intimately intertwined with sacrifice. Once we realize this, at whatever age or level of maturity, we begin to see the true meaning of Easter. What parent wouldn’t make great sacrifices for his or her spouse and children or mother, father as well as brothers and sisters. True friends will always sacrifice for one another. That is the basis of a good friendship.
As we grow older, most of us begin to see what is truly important in life. Age and experience most often bring wisdom. Overcoming adversity and failure leads us to success. One of the great lessons of life is discovering Truth. There are levels in everything, including righteousness and evil. Easter represents the very highest level of goodness and love.
Jesus Christ taught us this and made it clear when he told his apostles, “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Then, like all great leaders, He led by example and did just that. For the love of all of us, He suffered torture, humiliation and death for us. And that is why Easter is the greatest holiday and the greatest celebration of love. His resurrection is the ultimate triumph of love.