March 25 — Alpha and Omega?

Today is March 25, my daughter’s birthday. Laura was born on a date that is full of religious tradition. Everyone who knows me knows how much I love this stuff!

Before we get to the tradition, we have the facts which the early Church fathers used to determine the date of the Annunciation. You can read that post here.

Since 1900, the Annunciation and Good Friday have converged only five times—1910, 1921, 1932, 2005 and 2016. This will not happen again until 2157.

Ancient Judaism held a tradition that great prophets and holy men died on their birthday or on the same day as they were conceived. It is said that Moses was born on the seventh of Adar and that he died on his hundred and twentieth birthday. This is known as the integral age concept.

According to ancient Jewish tradition, March 25 was the date on which Adam was created, fell into original sin, and was put out of the Garden of Eden. On this same day Cain killed Abel his brother.  Also on March 25 Abraham offered Isaac, his son. John Baptist would have been  beheaded on this date, according to the concept.

And finally we get to the most astonishing claim of all: that Jesus was crucified on March 25.

In the springtime, new life is created in nature, which is why the ancient Jews associated this time with the creation of the world. The apostle Paul and the early Church used this season to associate new life and new creation in God’s plan of salvation. In John 3:10 Jesus spoke of being born anew, a new creation, and when Nicodemus did not understand Jesus answered him, “Are you a teacher of Israel and yet do not understand this?”

From the very beginning of the Book of Genesis, God creates with “water and spirit.” Traditionally this was done around the time of Passover. Jesus was conceived at the annunciation which occurred at midnight while Mary kept the watch of Passover. The book of Wisdom reveals the time of Jesus’ conception. When the night was half gone [midnight] the word [Jesus] leaped from heaven to earth (Wisdom 18:13-15).

Christians around 200AD are known to have recognized March 25 as the day of Christ’s crucifixion. “De Pascha Computus” (c. 240) states that the coming of Our Lord and His death must have coincided with the creation and fall of Adam, and since the world was created in the spring, the conception and death of Jesus must have also happened in the spring. This is often credited to the early Christian writer Tertullian (c. A.D. 200) who wrote that Jesus was crucified “in the month of March, at the times of the Passover, on the eighth day before the calends of April.” On the Roman calendar, the calends were the first days of the month. Eight days before the calends of April—April 1st—was  March 25th. Tertullian seems to have been the earliest author to propose this date for the Crucifixion, though it was often repeated through the centuries.

During the Middle Ages, historical dates were included in the liturgical calendars. When the Resurrection is listed, the date given is always March 27. Since Easter is a moveable feast, this had no effect on when it was actually celebrated.

The feast day of St Dismas (the penitent thief crucified with Jesus) is March 25.

I can’t help but wonder if Jesus will come back during Passover, maybe even March 25…

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