Death and Resurrection
You asked, “where is he”, You who knows all, You shed a tear for me O Saviour, as human by nature and You raised me from the dead by Your command. (Compline Hymn, Saturday of the Raising of Lazarus.)
All of us will or already have come into close contact with death through the passing away of a loved one or a dear friend. Our faith in God may be tested as the perceived injustice and indignity of death shocks us. However, if we truly believe in what we chant on Easter Sunday, “Christ is risen from the dead, by death trampling upon death”, then we accept that death makes sense in Jesus Christ. St Maximus the Confessor explains that Jesus showed how loving His divine justice is by emptying Himself and becoming one of us, and used our own vulnerability to death as the means of forever eliminating sin and death, both spiritual and physical.
Many scientifically-minded people will often say that death is part of nature. However, death only came because of the fall of Adam and Eve from Paradise. What does hearten us, and gives us hope and strength, is the knowledge that it is this very separation of our being that our Lord Jesus Christ used to defeat sin and death, once and for all. The Epistle reading for Holy Saturday shows us that, “now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him”. Therefore death has no power over us.
The Feast of Pascha shows us that with Christ, death is simply a progression to a state of hopeful expectation, where we await our own resurrection. This was beautifully expressed by our late Archbishop Stylianos in one of his poems, An Archangel’s Tour: “Man’s silence made the graves the most sacred church… These graves here are my final repentance… we are all fallen facing upwards opposite God so He can perpetually see only our chests which are wounded by our conflicts but also by His love. However above all, do not forget o awesome Archangel Michael to pass on to the Lord our common plea: all of us from our graves await His compassion. Doesn’t the Resurrection presuppose our fall? We will wait and we will long for the divine command facing upwards, horizontal.”
Source: Lychnos April – May 2019