‘Today, Easter Sunday, is not just another Sunday,’ said Rev. Father Tony Majiwat in his homily this morning at Stella Maris Church, Tg. Aru, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia. He said, ‘today is the most significant day in the Christian calendar in that Jesus Christ is risen from the dead. He is alive and all Christians celebrate the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.’
‘Today is more important feast day than Christmas because it is celebrated on Jesus' resurrection,’ he added in his homily this morning.
Christians around the country celebrated Easter Sunday by attending church services held to mark the solemn occasion.
In Sabah and Sarawak, where both Good Friday and Easter Sunday are celebrated on a large scale, thousands of Christians thronged the churches in these two states.
In some churches, worshippers came as early as 5am in the morning for their services.
Churches (throughout Malaysia) were also filled to the brim.
Easter celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ three days after his crucifixion on Good Friday.
For the Catholics, Easter also marks the end of Lent (and the beginning of Easter Season for the next 50 days until Pentecost Sunday day).
In Vatican City, the Pope is expected to conduct the traditional mass for Easter and address the crowds gathered at the St Peter's Square. (As I am writing, I am watching a direct telecast of our our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, celebrating the Easter Sunday Solemn Mass at the Vatican Square under heavy rain).
"The greatest sign of Jesus being the Son of God is that He rose from the dead," Father Nigli of St. Patrick Church in O'Neill, Nebraska said. "Everybody's born, but rising from the dead - that's the part where we are certain that Jesus Christ has power over life and death."
"If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain…your faith is futile and you are still in your sins…If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all men most to be pitied" (1 Cor 15:14,17, 19).
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And because of its importance, Easter is more than just a day. It's a seven-week season of the church year. The 50 days begin at sundown the evening before Easter Sunday and last until Pentecost Sunday, which is considered the birthday of the church.
Father Nigli said the Easter season is the time for new Catholics - those who came into the church at the Easter Vigil - to experience mystagogia, which is "the unraveling or unpacking of the church's mysteries and sacraments."
All other Catholics, Father Nigli said, are called to celebrate at the same time a renewal of their own faith.
"That is why we have the baptismal water sprinkling rite ... that we are renewed in our own baptismal promises and take a new vigor in our faith," he said.
The colours used during the Easter season are white or gold, which are symbolic of Jesus' transfigured body when he showed his glory, Father Nigli said.
"We also understand that at the time of the resurrection, He had a glorified body that came through and so symbolic of that, we use white or gold to reflect the glory that God attached to the human body," he said.