• Thanks to Father Michael Holman SJ, (Fordham board member and formerly Provincial of Society of Jesus in the UK) for his spiritual contribution and reflection to prepare us to live the meaning of Easter, which is now upon us.
  • Easter, from the Greek: pascha, in turn from the Aramaic pasah, “to pass over”, is a rite that in pre-Christian traditions celebrated the spring solstice, the rebirth of nature and the resumption of rural activities. A rebirth that has always been celebrated through rituals and conviviality.
  • It is a feast celebrated by Christians, Jews, and Muslims, each with its own meaning of renewal:
    • For the Jews it symbolizes the liberation from slavery in Egypt. When, at the end of the plagues that the Lord inflicted on the Egyptians, Moses led the people towards Israel. Towards the beginning of a new free life.
    • For Muslims it is called Eid al-Adha (feast of sacrifice), which represents the sacrifice of Isaac requested by God of Abraham. The moment in which Abraham demonstrates his total faithfulness to God. 
    • For Christians, as Father Michael Holman has just recalled, it symbolizes Christ’s passage from death to life, the defeat of death and the sacrifice he made for all humanity. 


  • With the advent of Christ, Easter also speaks of love. At the Last Supper, Jesus uses the term “agapao” which indicates total love, typically towards God, the highest form of love that we can experience in our lives. 
  • It is precisely food and eating together that are an important part of the Easter ritual. In fact, the Eucharist, the most important Christian sacrament, came to exist during the last supper.
  • The new covenant between Man and God is understood as a real moment of celebration, of celebration of a rediscovered freedom not only for man (as with the flight from Egypt), but, above all, for the soul of men. 
  • Typical Easter foods have a strong symbolic value, where:
    • the bread and wine represent “the Body and Blood” of Christ, who offers himself in redemption for sins. (Jesus’ last supper takes place during the Jewish Passover, Pesach or “feast of unleavened bread”, as leavened bread is not consumed but unleavened bread, the same that was consumed by the Jewish people fleeing Egypt). 
    • The lamb represents redemption (the sacrifice of Jesus) and derives from the original Jewish tradition linked to the liberation from Egypt.
    • The egg represents resurrection, because life is born from the egg, which in turn is associated with the rebirth of Christ. The egg was also present in the religious traditions of Roman antiquity, in the cults in honor of Venus or in the pagan rites dedicated to the goddess of agriculture Ceres. 
    • Even oil (which we use every day) actually has a meaning, it is a symbol of divine blessing. The blessed oil (Chrism) is in fact used in various rituals, such as the liturgy of Baptism and Confirmation. 
  • Even the renunciation of food has a value: Easter is preceded by Lent which for the purification of the soul provides for some forms of fasting, because even the renunciation of food is a gesture that unites, bringing attention back to God and to the belonging to a community in everyday life. Feeling hungry is also a reminder of the value of food as a gift. 
  • For the Jews, the celebrations last seven days and it is expected that at the table there is a specifically codified service, called Seder, used only during this moment of celebration, which includes bitter foods to remember the bitterness of Egyptian slavery and the amazement of freedom found.  
  • In Islamic rites, on the other hand, it is celebrated with the immolation of a head of cattle. This rite takes place simultaneously for all families, at the same time as it takes place in the Mina valley, in Mecca. 


  • But what does food and being together at the table represent today?
  • Eating together means being family, it means being brothers. Just as happens in the last supper, in which Jesus taught us through food what it means to love. It is no coincidence that “agapao” was used by Jesus at the last supper: it means to love in its most complete, strongest, most sincere form. In fact, it is used to indicate love for God, for Christ, for justice.
  • Easter teaches us to love in the deepest form, it teaches us to go beyond “phileo” (friendship) and finally understand agape, what we are called to by God.
  • Although with different rites and foods, in different religions, there is a single common thread that unites: the conviviality of the moment of celebration. There is no conception of celebration without food, without sharing. 
  • Today, food is something we take for granted too often, instead food is a gift, therefore it is precious. Experiencing the meal also as a moment of reflection on its value helps to increase awareness of its being a symbol of unity, which belongs to our traditions and to our deepest cultural heritage, which begins well before Christ, but which Jesus reminds us of every day. 
  • A symbolism that takes us once again to the sense – and primordial need – of community, in a world that every day seems to take us in the opposite direction. That is, towards individualism, narcissism, and competition, phenomena that can only generate loneliness and conflict.  
  • My Easter message to young people is to look at food with different eyes, remembering that food is not only a source of energy for our body, but it is also a source of nourishment for our spirit. In awareness of this, I urge you to look to the future with a renewed vision by committing yourselves to work and life to build communities around you.

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