Beloved Fathers and Brethren in the Risen Lord:
Once again, the day of the Resurrection of the Lord, the day that brings joy to the world, the light-bestowing day of exceeding radiance, has arrived. It was, to be sure, not possible that our Savior Christ, Who authoritatively promised in His teaching that He would resurrect His faithful, would not have resurrected Himself by His own power. As man He suffered, was crucified, and was buried, but as God He arose and granted us life eternal, incorruptible, and unending.
He came to earth as God-Man in order to fulfill the will of God the Father and to reveal His glory, “the glory as of the Only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (St. John 1:14). The Son and Word of the Father became Man so that upon all who willingly and of their own free choice accepted Him He might bestow adoption into Divine sonship, that is, to become “sons of God” (St. John 1:12). The will of the Father is that none of the faithful be lost, but that all should attain resurrection: that they should behold and believe in His Son, as “true God of true God,” so as to have eternal life and be raised up on the Last Day, the Day of Judgment (St. John 6:39-40).
All will assuredly be resurrected at the glorious Second Coming, righteous and sinners: the former “unto the resurrection of life,” the latter “unto the resurrection of damnation” (St. John 5:29), the former in order to be taken up into eternal fellowship and co-existence with God in His Kingdom, the latter in order to be condemned to eternal chastisement (cf. St. Matthew 25:31-46).
In this life we see the Son with the spiritual eyes of faith, which are opened through the struggle for purification from the passions and through good works; otherwise, they remain closed and incapable of receiving the dogmas of the Faith that transcend reason, not to mention meeting the needs of our neighbor, our fellow man, our every “least” brother, who is an image of God.
Christ the God-Man celebrated the Mystical Supper and was sacrificed on the Cross in order to give us this His very Flesh, united with the Godhead, so that we might become communicants and partakers of Divine life. He died in order to conquer death, and resurrected in order to grant us resurrection. But if we do not eat His Flesh and drink His Blood, we will not have true and eternal life: “Whoso eateth My Flesh, and drinketh My Blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For My Flesh is meat indeed, and My Blood is drink indeed. He that eateth My Flesh, and drinketh My Blood, dwelleth in Me, and I in him” (St. John 6:54-55).
It is very clear that, in order to be vouchsafed eternal life and resurrection, it is indispensable that we receive the deifying Mysteries that bestow the Holy Spirit upon us in this life. Only in this way do we satisfy our spiritual hunger and thirst and yearn for the blessed life of eternity, whereof we have a foretaste within us already in the present life.
Children in the Risen Lord:
In order to participate in the Paschal Supper of our Church and to celebrate the true Resurrection of Christ and the resurrection of our existence, we must abide in a state of repentance and fear of God. This is our own contribution as a basic precondition for such participation. We have fasted and prepared ourselves to reach the radiant day of Pascha, but our striving does not stop; in essence, it has not come to an end. As long as our conscience remains good and uncondemned, our soul receives the pledge of our resurrection. To the extent that we draw near to God, to that extent we remove ourselves from the slavery of sin.
Our enemy the Devil does not cease constantly to create in us mountains of mental obstacles: that sin is, supposedly, a way of life, that it is something that we allegedly cannot overcome; that pursuit of the life in Christ is perilous, and occasions fear in this world—fear regarding well-being, regarding relationships and aspirations, and even regarding biological life itself, lest, that is, we become ill, lest we become hungry, lest we become embroiled in the menacing war that has now broken out, lest we be unable to move and work without hindrance, lest we not have time to realize our dreams and expectations....
However, even if all of these things are possibilities, as a rule they have no substantial force. No one can deprive us of faith, hope, and love. No one can separate us from the love of Christ (Romans 8:35-39). They are merely deceptive intimidations. Let us not fall into the trap of doubt and compromise. Let us advance with patience and courage to where the Risen Lord summons us: to the Cross and the Resurrection, assured by the spirit of repentance alive in us. Then the joy and the plenitude of the Resurrection will raise us up to the divine joy of our expectation: to victory, to life, and to the eternal Kingdom. Amen!
† KALLINIKOS of Athens
Christ is Risen! Truly, He is Risen!
THE HOLY SYNOD
† GERONTIOS of Piraeus and Salamis
† CHRYSOSTOMOS of Attica and Boeotia
† GREGORIOS of Thessalonica
† PHOTIOS of Demetrias
† MOSES of Toronto
† DEMETRIUS of America
† AMBROSIOS of Philippi and Maroneia
† CYPRIAN of Oropos and Phyle
† KLEMES of Larisa and Platamon
† AMBROSE of Methone
† AUXENTIOS of Etna and Portland
† THEODOSIOS of Bresthena
† CHRISTODOULOS of Theoupolis
† MAXIMUS of Pelagonia