As my four year old daughter and I left a department store yesterday, we were confronted by a giant electronic Easter Bunny that was rising out of a cracked egg. The bunnyâ€™s arms were outstretched and it had a silly grin on its face, and then it suddenly dropped back inside the egg, keeping my daughter spellbound. After a few seconds, the bunny rose again with that silly grin and floppy ears, and I hurried my daughter away, knowing that she loved it, but the problem for me is that this kind of thing reconfirms what she has been seeing for weeks now.
Everywhere we go there are bunnies, little chickens, colorful Easter eggs, and baskets overflowing with candy and toys. If she were to judge by just what she has seen, Easter would be about nothing but a bunny who inexplicably comes from an egg and then distributes more of them along with goodies to good little girls and boys. There is nothing there that is religious in nature, and thatâ€™s probably why it is appealingly safe for retailers, school teachers, and advertisers.
Letâ€™s face it, Holy Week is a difficult concept when one looks at the reality of it. As palms were distributed for Palm Sunday in our church, my daughter watched silently and listened to the readings. When we went outside after Mass, she asked me if the palms were like flowers because Jesus had died. I went on to explain what they meant and also that we would talk more about how and why Jesus died later on. This little exchange reminded me of a time (I must have been around five) when I told my father that I liked the Baby Jesus much better than the older Jesus. Of course, Baby Jesus is soft, cuddly, and easy to like (and he comes at Christmas along with Santa and his toys), but the adult Jesus who dies on the cross is a tough thing for a child to understand let alone like.
Growing up as a Catholic here in New York City, I was probably more confused about Holy Week than anything else in the faith I was being taught. The good Dominican Sisters in my school did their best to instill the catechism and scripture in our hearts, but my mind wandered sometimes back to only a few months before when we were celebrating the birth of a little baby. When I was very young, I didnâ€™t understand how that baby grew so fast between Christmas and Easter.