For most of the Western world, these are among the holiest of days. The Jewish feast of Passover began Friday and runs through Saturday; today marks the Christian feast of Easter.
Passover celebrates the Jews’ deliverance from the bonds of slavery under the Egyptian Pharaoh. Easter marks a deliverance from death itself, when Jesus Christ rose from the dead three days after he was executed outside Roman-controlled Jerusalem.
Both carry a similar message: Even when days seem the darkest, one should maintain hope that things will get better. There is a Creator, a Supreme Being who is watching over us and ultimately will protect us.
That’s not to say that all our worries will end — after their liberation from bondage the Israelites spent the next 40 years lost in the desert; Christians endured years of persecution because of their faith. Even today, people of virtually all faiths have fallen victim to attack by people who believe differently. And yet the faithful are told to never falter, and to hold true to the precepts of their religion. To be sure, the Judeo-Christian history colors the lives of most Americans, and drive the traditions of altruism and self-sacrifice that have inspired so many people to look beyond their immediate needs and work for the common good.
They also offer assurances that there’s something greater than the secular hand that rules over us, whether it be an oppressive Pharaoh or Roman and religious leaders who feared a popular uprising. Our nation’s current political turmoil is more easily endured with the knowledge that these problems won’t last forever. Pharaoh’s edict to kill all first-born Jewish males, and Pilate’s death sentence against the Christ did not destroy the faithful, and neither will concerns about foreign influences in our elections.
For there is something greater than the machinations of government and the decisions made by imperfect men and women. For the faithful, there’s something greater than life itself: the promise of a better existence beyond the one we now endure. We can escape the chains of slavery, and we can even escape the limitations of an earthly life, if we look beyond those limitations.
It’s a message that should give comfort to those who believe. It should also inspire us to reflect upon the core messages of the Judeo-Christian faith, and generally of all faiths: We will answer someday for how we treat each other, punished for the sins we might commit but rewarded for the acts of mercy and kindness we bestow on our neighbors.
Likewise, we are told, we can believe in the divine power of change, and hope that today’s oppressors might become tomorrow’s benefactors.
That message of hope — of eventual victory over tribulation — inspires us to maintain our course toward a better life. We wish everyone a future filled with peace, and hope.