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Passover, Easter, and the Pandemic – Common Themes?

Posted on | April 12, 2020 | 4 Comments

Mike Magee

Two years ago, Rabbi Daniel F. Polish wrote an article in the Jesuit magazine America titled, “Easter and Passover have more in common than you think.”

Rabbi Daniel F. Polish

In the final summary paragraph, he writes:

“Pesach (or Passover) and Pascha (or Easter), beneath their manifest historical and theological content, can be seen as the human reaction to the liberation from the harsh confinement of winter to the verdant restoration of life and promise that all of us feel as we experience the bursting buds and radiant colors, the soft air and beautiful scents that mark the beginning of the new season. And more, both holidays are joined at their core in finding us rejoicing in the defeat of death and the gift of life restored.”

In the body of the article, Polish makes the case for common themes including:

Liberation: From Egyptian slavery for Jews, and from sin for Christians.

Messianic aspirations: “Next year in Jerusalem” for Jews, and the risen Christ for Christians.

Rebirth: Return to ancestral land for Jews, and the rebirth of the Son of God for Christians.

The timing of these most sacred holidays presses down on all Americans today, isolated and separated, brave and fearful, discouraged but hopeful in the face of this pandemic.

Emotions are raw, self-reflection abundant, the future uncertain. But what is certain is that the same issues drug up by the pandemic are at the core of Pesach and Pascha – life and death have center stage.

Here are my reflections:

Death is not popular but it is inevitable. The only question is whether it is part of our lineage or something stolen away in the night. Death is not our choice in time or place. But life can be lived with death included. Those who never contribute never live fully. Their lives are like a series of small deaths, death to potential, death to promise, death to exploration. Life deserves to be lived each day, considering the unpredictability of death. That death is at the end should not be feared as much as a halted life at the beginning. Life is a continuum – being, doing, doing without. Things wear out. They break or get broken by events beyond our understanding. Life is short. But the art of living is long. When we change, there is a sadness for what we leave behind, but a joy as well for what lies ahead. It’s a trade-off. Losing a love along the way, that is the pain, depopulation, a hole in your world. Can it ever be filled? Perhaps not, but is that not a tribute to the one who’s gone, to the memory of the one whose pleasures made? No time to fret. No need to rush it. Death will stop for you so why watch out, or dwell on it. A better rest, and well-deserved, a joining ‘wither thou goest’ are in your future too.

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With thanks and attribution to Ruth 1:16-17, Charles Dickens, Emily Dickinson, Jean Paul Richter, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Alphonse de Lamartine, Anatole’ France, John Morley, John Henry Cardinal Newman, Eleanor Roosevelt, Joan Baez, and Hippocrates.

Comments

4 Responses to “Passover, Easter, and the Pandemic – Common Themes?”

  1. Victoria Soltis-Jarrett
    April 12th, 2020 @ 12:43 pm

    Beautifully written. Thank you.

  2. Art Ulene
    April 12th, 2020 @ 1:31 pm

    Thank you for that uplifting message (pun intended). Stay safe…….Art

  3. Mike Magee
    April 12th, 2020 @ 2:15 pm

    Thanks, Art. Same to you, Priscilla and the family! Best, Mike

  4. Mike Magee
    April 12th, 2020 @ 2:17 pm

    Thanks so much, Victoria! Feel free to share with all my friends at UNC (including Tom Linden and Blair Keagy). Best, Mike

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