April 18, 2022
Last weekend marked the confluence of the Holy Days of four different faiths. On Friday, Western Christians commemorated the crucifixion of Jesus, and on Sunday celebrated Easter marking Jesus’ resurrection. Friday also marked the Jewish celebration of Passover Eve, which commemorates the exodus of the Israelites and the end of their bondage in Egypt. Friday was another of the Muslim weekly Friday holidays during the month of Ramadan, which began on April 2 and ends on May 2. Finally, Sunday marked the beginning of Holy Week for the Eastern Orthodox church, or Palm Sunday. This confluence of dates is unusual and is only possible because of the different calendars used by these faiths.
When I looked online, I found the confluence of dates results as the Christian calendar is based on the solar year, while the Islamic calendar is aligned with the lunar year. The twelve months in the solar year equal 365 days, but the 12 lunar months have 354 days. This causes the Islamic Ramadan to move through the solar calendar over a thirty-year cycle. The Jewish Passover and Western Easter occur close to each other in early spring, but rarely on the same day. Christians have dated Easter to Sunday since 325 CE, specifically the first Sunday after spring full moon. In the Jewish calendar, Passover begins on the 14th day of the month, regardless of the day of the week. Eastern Christian churches base their Easter date on the Julian calendar, which differs from the Gregorian calendar used by western countries. That means Eastern Easter is often later than Western Easter.
Another confluence happens as Jerusalem has major significance for all three monotheistic religions, Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. Around 1000 BCE, King David captured Jerusalem and made it the capital of his Jewish kingdom, and Solomon built the first Temple 40 years later. King Herod reconstructed the second temple in 37 BCE and added the retaining walls. Jesus was crucified in the city around 30 CE and is said to have been resurrected. The Islamic prophet Muhammad died in 632 CE and was said to have ascended to heaven from Jerusalem. The city now lies on the boarder of Jewish Israel and Islamic Palestine. Parts are controlled by each state, and both have claimed Jerusalem as their capital. Bloody conflicts to control the city and the sites within it have waged for 1500 years. The confluence of faith has not brought peace.
THOUGHTS: Zena woke me early Sunday morning to let me know it was time to go outside. I let her out and listened as music blasted off the hill overlooking town celebrating Easter Sunrise. When I was in Cairo, I was awakened each morning by the call to prayer that was broadcast from each of the many mosques in the city. The confluence of faith and the world often results in conflict. That is true for Jerusalem, for the Middle East, and for America. Some believe if we proclaim our message loudly, teachings of love and unity can be disregarded in favor of power and control. Act for all. Change is coming and it starts with you.