The last time Easter fell on April 1, also known as April Fool’s Day, was in 1956. This will not happen again until 2029. From the big picture perspective it is not a very rare coincidence. However, each year that Easter coincides with April Fools Day, it is not uncommon for humorous one-liners to do the rounds. Depending on which side of the tomb one is on, non-believers and believers take on each other especially when Easter and April Fools day fall on the same day. Non-believers call the Resurrection the greatest April Fools prank, while believers brag that Jesus did ultimately outwit his opponents! People on both sides know that the coincidence occurs because April Fools Day is based on the solar calendar, whereas Easter is based on the lunar calendar, and hence changes each year.
April Fools’ Day originated in the 1500s when the Gregorian calendar took over from the Julian. Those who forgot the change and attempted to celebrate New Year’s (previously celebrated on the 1st of April) on the wrong date were teased as “April fools.” We know, then, that Easter outdates April Fool’s day by many millennia.
The fact remains that more than one-third of the world population gathers in churches around the globe not to commemorate April Fools Day but the resurrection of Jesus. The fact also remains that Jesus did outwit the world. He did this by simply showing us an alternative way of life. Just like the Gregorian calendar was an alternative to the Julian calendar, Jesus proposed a New Covenant to replace the Old. He said, “You have heard that it was said of old… but I say to you….” (Mt 5: 21-48). They did not believe him. They thought he was being foolish. He wasn’t! To show that he meant what he said, he began to live his message. Through his life he showed that there was another way besides condemnation and rejection. He showed that there was another way besides hate and violence. He showed the path of love, forgiveness, service, compassion, mercy, peace, and hope. He even said that death is not the final word. He claimed that he would rise from the dead and so will everyone who believed in him. They still thought he was foolish. They decided to end this foolishness by putting an end to him. He let them do it. He let them do it because he knew that he was not fooling around when it came to people’s life and destiny. He was in the serious business of putting people on the path to redemption.
That fateful day they thought they had surely put it all behind him when they nailed him to the cross, laid him in the tomb, and finally placed the largest stone they could find at the entrance of the tomb. “The tomfoolery is now behind us,” they must have said to themselves.
They should have listened to Him when he said that he was not merely fooling around. As in life so in death Jesus did not food around. As he promised, he rose from the dead! How do we know that the resurrection was not a fable created by his disciples? How can we be sure that Jesus did rise from the dead. My answer is simple. Because two thousand years later, people like you and me believe in the deepest part of our being that our own destiny is tied up with him who rose from the dead. A living people of faith is the greatest witness to the resurrection! Tomfoolery does not survive that long! The resurrection of Jesus - it’s not the material for fools! The best way to prove wrong those who do not believe in the resurrection is for us to live the life that Jesus lived - the way of love, forgiveness, service, compassion, mercy, peace, and hope. The only way to beat the fool is to be dead serious about living the life that Jesus showed us.
I wrote this reflection not to wish you for April Fools Day but to wish you a blessed Easter! I pray that when it comes to life and death, you will not be fooled.
- Fr. Satish Joseph