Passage and Resurrection
There is no better introduction for the Christian celebration of Pascha [Resurrection], which the Orthodox Church has called “feast of feasts”, than the unique joy experienced by the faithful at the time, and its associated spiritual uplifting. The Christians received this feast from the Jews. But while they commemorate their exit from Egypt, we celebrate something far more important and beneficial for the whole humanity – the Resurrection of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
In one word, Resurrection means the entire message of Christianity, the whole content of our Faith, the complete meaning of the Gospel: “If Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty, and so is our faith” (1 Cor 15:14). But Christ has risen from the dead, as attested by the millions who believed and believe in Him, and the millions of martyrs who died for His name. Further, the undisputed proof of His rising is the Tomb of Christ and the Divine Light that springs forth from it every Pascha, following prayers and supplications offered on that day by the Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem – but by no other religious leader of the Christian faith. But the Resurrection of Christ is not an event the significance of which is confined to Christ. It means that we too will be raised on that day when He returns again. But for those who truly believe in Him, they pre-taste the life of Resurrection whilst on earth, as they experience the grace of the Risen Christ in their daily life. Their life now reflects the Orthodox spirit, and their life partakes of the life of Jesus, as declared by Saint Paul – “it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal 2:20).
Those who experience the grace of the risen Lord in their life, attain that by living as though they are within His risen body. This is no other, but our Church in this world, here and now, with Faith in the Resurrection and the defeat of sin. But to do that, the Fathers of the Church say, there have to be three resurrections of man:
- The resurrection of the Body – which became defiled by its passions,
- That of the Soul – corrupted by sinful sensual pleasures, and can be purified by a life of virtue, and
- That of the Mind – distorted by worldly cares, but cleansed by repentance, the Sacraments of the Church and dependence on divine providence.
Pascha brings to the faithful divine joy and spiritual uplifting, and fills our hearts with optimism, in spite of being surrounded by a society so complex and difficult, more so than in any other period of our lives. And yet, we feel secure, knowing that we have in our midst the risen Lord, not only in spirit, but as a tangible entity, in His Holy Church. Jesus confirmed this when he assured us, “and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt 28:20).
And so we greet one another with Joy: Christ is risen – Χριστός Ανέστη! Only to receive a joyful response: Truly, He is risen – Αληθώς Ανέστη!
Source: Lychnos April 2018 / May 2018