Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting? (1 Cor 15:55)
Christ is Risen!
We currently find ourselves within the joyful, fifty-day Paschal period, leading to the feast of Pentecost. The greater length and the grandeur of this period (concluding with the Leave-taking of Pascha, Η Απόδοσις του Πάσχα) convey the superiority of the Feast, for ‘when Christ rose from the dead, death no longer had any power over Him…and He ascended into heaven, making our human substance share the same throne as the Father.’ (St Gregory Palamas, On the Fifty Day Celebration of the Resurrection)
St Gregory writes, ‘He alone became the beginning of the coming Resurrection of all.’ (based on Cor 15:20) ‘As in Adam all sinners and the just die, so in Christ shall all be made alive.’ (On the Fifty Day Celebration of the Resurrection)
Having been recently bombarded with the sadness, the atrocities, the injustice and the sufferings of our fallen world, it is Christ’s life-giving Resurrection that raises our spirits and fills us with His hope, His joy, His forgiveness and His embrace. The Lord’s Resurrection allows us to transcend the fallenness of this world and, through our actions, radiate His eternal goodness and kingdom. Is it not truly miraculous that we have managed to fight through this challenging period of the pandemic with perseverance and patience? Is it not miraculous that most of humanity made significant personal, social, economic and philanthropic sacrifices throughout this period, in order to protect and preserve the greater population’s health and wellbeing?
Dear friends, the hope and love of Christ’s glorious Resurrection is ingrained within the heart of each human person, for he or she is a child and image of God. Through the Resurrection of our Lord, all divisions can be healed, all differences can be reconciled and, fundamentally, life prevails over death and darkness.
If Christ ‘had not become incarnate, suffered in the flesh, risen and ascended for our sake, we should not have known God’s surpassing love for us,’ St Gregory tells us. We, as young Orthodox Christians, are witnesses to this Resurrection, which is not only an event in history for us, but rather our way of life and outlook on all elements of our daily attitudes and contributions to society.
For this reason, St Cyprian stresses:
We are ‘confident that Christ suffered for us and rose again…If we do believe in Christ, let us put faith in His words and promises; and as we are not to die eternally, let us pass in joyful confidence to Christ, with whom we are both to live and reign for ever. In that we now die, we pass by death into immortality; nor can eternal life follow, unless it has been our portion to depart out of this world. This is not a passing away, but a passing over, and a transit to things eternal after this temporal journey has run its course…’
With boldness and Christian love let us sensibly enjoy each other’s company – as restrictions are gradually lifted in our country, always in the light of Christ’s Resurrection, living by His words: ‘Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.’ (Matt 14:27)