Christ is Risen
Christ is Risen! Today a Sacred Pascha has been revealed to us! These are the triumphant words that our Church repeats tirelessly for the forty days between Easter and the Ascension of our Lord. These three words bring the joyous message that “No one need fear death; the Saviour’s death has freed us from it” (St John Chrysostom).
The message of Easter is one of eternal life and salvation. It overshadows all the problems we face in this life, whether they be health issues, economic downturns, social problems, etc.
This is why Easter, or Pascha, is the most important day in the Orthodox liturgical year. It is called the “Feast of Feasts” and represents the moment when the time of preparation gives way to the time of fulfillment. The Church’s hymnology is rich with passages that illustrate this. One of the hymns that we chant at the conclusion of the Matins of Easter begins with the victorious message that “Today a sacred Pascha has been revealed to us.”
The sacred Pascha is revealed to us “Today”, not yesterday, not 2,000 years ago, but today! Easter is not merely a historical event but also a transformative experience that we need to live now, in 2020. We do not go to Church to solely commemorate the past, or to merely reflect on the promise of the future. We also go to begin experiencing the resurrection now and in this life.
This year the Covid-19 pandemic has required us to visit Church remotely, via video, but that has not stopped us from experiencing the joy of our Lord’s Resurrection.
Through Christ’s resurrection, the gates of Paradise which were previously shut have now been broken up. Now that these gates are open, the potential for our “theosis” – our journey to become like God – is unlocked. We, who were made in the “image of God” (Gen 1:27), can now begin approaching His likeness, by His Grace. This is the aim of our lives.
For this reason Easter should be transformative for us. In the Third Ode of the Easter Canon, we chant “today I arise in Your resurrection.” We should make it our mission to “arise” – to ascend higher – as a result of Easter.
This personal resurrection involves us choosing to no longer be corrupted by the sensual pleasures and have our thinking distorted by worldly cares. Instead, we should purify ourselves with a life of virtue and repentance.
The most beautiful Easter is the one in which we are all transformed by the joy of Christ’s resurrection and become living icons transmitting that message to the world! How can we be such icons? Another beautiful hymn in the Easter service has the answer:
“It is the day of the Resurrection. Let us shine brightly for the festival, and also embrace one another. Brethren, let us say even to those who hate us, “Let us forgive everything for the Resurrection. And thus let us cry aloud, ‘Christ is risen from the dead, by death trampling down upon death, and to those in the tombs He has granted life’.”
Source: Lychnos April-May 2020