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Two Stories of Easter

Easter and Christmas provide an opportunity to rest, forget work for a few days and enjoy the company of family and friends. It also marks the most important celebration in the Christian calendar over three days, telling a harrowing story of betrayal by a friend, a mockery of a trial, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, a man who spoke about the injustices he saw and preached a message of hope for a life beyond the present.

Jesus’s fate was not uncommon in a country occupied by the Romans who were alert to insurrection and responded powerfully. Many others met a similar fate for defying the occupier and, while for his followers he was exceptional, for the Romans he was just another troublemaker. Over three days the story takes us to the depths of horror, humiliation, grief, and despair to joy on the Sunday morning when his followers go to the tomb to discover the body has gone and the promise of resurrection fulfilled.

The Story Beside the Story

Most stories are multifaceted with other narratives running beside the loudest and most compelling one. The Easter story is no exception. One parallel story is about Mary, the mother of Jesus. At the beginning she is the central figure, holding the new baby as those who come to witness crowd around. In famous paintings she is often shown gazing at her baby who stares back. While occasionally mentioned as the story unfolds, she becomes a minor figure. However, amid the noise and horror of the Easter story, Mary, the mother, reappears at the foot of the cross as her son is dying. In one account it is said that on the third day she and the other women go to the tomb to anoint the body of the baby she once held so lovingly.

What is this Story About?

This is a story about love and attachment, the bond that, at its best, prepares children to become strong, brave, and confident people who, in turn, can also love others with the same conviction. Despite knowing what she will see, Mary goes to the scene of her son’s crucifixion and stands at the foot of the cross. She cannot hold him as she did as an infant but is as close as she can to offer comfort and solace. Some say that he saw her there and asked his friend to take her home and care for her as if she were his mother. The bond ran both ways.

Finally, despite risking the wrath of the Romans, a group of women who may have included Mary, go to the tomb to embalm the body. This is another act of both courage and love as a mother offers her last gift of care to her child. Instead, they find the tomb empty, and the prophesy fulfilled.

The Miracle

The Easter story is about the promise of rebirth and defiance of death. Mary’s story is about the small and everyday miracle of attachment and the solace and courage we derive from each other, even through the most horrifying events.

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