Resurrection Fresco Icon, Greek Orthodox Church of St. Katherine, Naples, FL

Protocol 39/17

April 16, 2017

Holy Pascha

The Feasts of Feasts

 

To the Most Reverend Hierarchs, the Reverend Priests and Deacons, the Monks and Nuns, the Presidents and Members of the Parish Council of the Greek Orthodox Communities, the Distinguished Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Day, Afternoon, and Church Schools, the Philoptochos Sisterhoods, the Youth, the Hellenic Organizations, and the entire Greek Orthodox Family in America,

Χριστός νέστη!  Christ is Risen!

On this glorious Feast of Feasts that is filled with the transcendent light and unsurpassable joy of the Lord’s Resurrection, I proclaim with you, my beloved people,  the exclamation of victory,  Christ is Risen! Truly, He is Risen!

The reality of the Lord’s Resurrection has an unparalleled significance for humanity. The Resurrection is an event of multiple victories, victories that have a transformative and renewing promise for each of us.

First, The Lord’s Resurrection is the victory over death, the victory of life over death.  But, beyond that, it is the victory of   establishing the Resurrection as a new reality on earth.  In the Paschal light, we realize that while death continues to be a physical phenomenon, it does not dominate humanity as the ultimate and unavoidable fate. Rather death has lost its sting (1Corinthians 15:55) as it opens a passageway to a better life, a life in the union, presence, and eternal communion with God. 

Ultimately, the Resurrection becomes the destiny for each and every one of us. Saint Paul assures us in clear language that as Christ was risen, so we will be risen and be united to Christ in a transformed life, an incorruptible life, a shining life, a luminous life bathed in an abundance of light and splendor.

Second, the Lord’s Resurrection is the victory over injustice.  Is it possible to identify any event more unjust than the Crucifixion of Christ? In the horrific event of unbelievable injustice in which humanity crucified the living manifestation of perfection, holiness, innocence, and purity, we see the Resurrection of Christ overcoming this injustice and restoring triumphantly the invincible rule of justice willed by God.

Third, the Lord’s Resurrection is also the victory of love over hatred.  The Resurrection of Christ is the establishment of love as the central reality of life. Despite the cries of hate, Away with Him, away with Him! Crucify Him! (John 19:15)  Christ on the Cross asks the Father to forgive his adversaries for they know not what they do (Luke 23:34). The Resurrection amazingly transforms the Crucifixion from a crime of hatred on the part of humanity to an act of love on the part of Christ! Christ is risen and love is splendidly shining over humanity.

Fourth, The Lord’s Resurrection is the victory of salvation, liberation and holiness over sin, guilt and evil. Some contemporary existential philosophers consider that sin, guilt, and evil are the conditions that man cannot surpass. With the Resurrection, however, man can overcome these tormenting elements of the human condition. The Cross followed by the Resurrection establishes the abolition of sin and guilt and restores the reality of a life free of them.  It is a newness of life due to the Resurrection. While sin, guilt, and evil may still be a reality on earth, under the light of the Resurrection they are very different.  By the grace and might of Christ’s Resurrection, they can be easily overcome as they are now stripped of their power to control and consume us.

In this salvific Day of the Resurrection, we are fully aware of these multiple victories of Christ over anything that is hostile to human existence. All these victories of the Risen Lord, lead us once more to the central message of the Resurrection, which is our own personal resurrection. It is the vision of this Resurrection that fills us with hope for the future, no matter what the present circumstances of life may be.

It is the promise of our personal resurrection that this vision establishes and fills us with ineffable joy as we chant, It is the Day of Resurrection! O People, let us glory in splendor! Pascha, the Lord’s Pascha! For Christ our God has transported us who sing the triumphal hymn from death to life, and from earth to Heaven.

Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen!

With paternal love in Christ, the Risen Lord,

† DEMETRIOS

Archbishop of America