Feast of the Ressurrection of Our Lord, 2017
+ M I T R O P H A N
By the mercy of God Serbian Orthodox Bishop of Canada
To the Priesthood, Monastics, and all the sons and daughters of our God-preserved Diocese of Canada: grace, mercy, and peace from God; the Father, and Our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit.
Christ is risen, bringing joy!
The holy forty day lenten period, teaching us to spend our time quietly and with spiritual joy, by mirrorring the lives of saintly God-pleasing men and women, has passed. We had before us the Holy Prophets Moses, Elijah, and John the Baptist; the Venerable fathers Gregory Palama, John Climacus, Andrew of Crete, and the Venerable Mother Mary of Egypt, an angel by body. All of them can be called ”heavenly people and angels on earth”. We also bowed before the Life-giving Cross so that we may be spiritually strengthened.
We experienced joy at the resurrection of Lazarus of the four days; he who is a foretelling of our general resurrection. We entered the Holy city of Jerusalem with our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, so that we may spiritually partake in His suffering for the sake of our salvation. All of this culminated with His crucifixion on the Cross and being laid into the tomb. Anyone who has even the smallest sense of faith experienced sadness in their heart. For we have all crucified Him. And every day we crucify Him with our sins.
And He, forever living, after being laid into the tomb, descended into Hades, with His human soul and godliness equally, so that even there He may spread the Gospel. Our joy commences in Hades. Already there, God showed His godly power, delivering all of the just from the grasp of Hades. And when His enemied thought that they had defeated Him, He miraculously ressurects on the third day. That was the joy above all joys. There has never been greater joy in the heavens, or on earth. Christ’s resurrection turned the course of history. Christ’s resurrection gave our life a meaning (Rom. 5, 18). And truly, there is no sense in living without the resurrected Christ. The Apostle Paul says: ”If Christ did not rise, then our teachings are empty, and so is your faith”. (1Cor. 15,14)
Dear brothers and sisters,
Not one event in the history of man has been confirmed as well as Christ’s resurrection. And not only is it confirmed then, but it is reaffirmed from day to day. St. Justin Popovich rightly says ”Without Christ’s resurrection it is impossible to explain the apostolicity of the Apostles, the saintliness of Saints, the martyrdom of Martyrs, the myracles of Wonderworkers, or the asceticism of Ascetics”. The resurrected Christ is the one who gave them the strength to win with the Word and power of God. They are the true affirmation of God’s words: ”Anything is possible in Christ who gives me strength” (Phill. 4,13) They are the ones who did not yield a sword but God’s Cross – the most powerful weapon of all times, and against all visible and invisible enemies.
Do we need better proof of His godliness than His resurrection? For everything which He did for people: healing the sick, cripples, deaf, blind, feeding the starving twice with five and seven loaves of bread, raising the son of the widow, and even resurrecting Lazarus in the end – it would all be quickly forgotten had it not been for the resurrection. And nice memories of Him would fade as a bubble bursts. And He would be the first and last Christian. No, He is stronger than death. He is stronger than sin. He is stronger than Satan. And the fact that we are stronger than all of this, when we are with Him, should be constantly on our minds. He resurrected to show us where our home is – in the heavens. He showed us where we need to sit – at the right hand of the Father, and together with Him. (Eph. 1,20)
Let us rejoice dear brothers and sisters! The risen Christ is our Christ. We are His brothers. We are His people. Through His resurrection He has gathered all of us, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, into His Holy Church, which even the gates of Hades cannot contain. (Mt. 16, 18) And the Church is our mother. We are baptised in the resurrected Lord and we commune of the resurrected Lord. And everything which we do in our spiritual life, we do because of the risen Lord.
We know whom we believe in. We understand the One who we listen to. Not the angels, archangels, philosophers, reformers of religions, Old Testament prophets – but the resurrected Christ, the only begotten Son of God. Sadly there are individuals who do not know what they believe. Let us pray that the risen Lord will open their hearts and souls so that the may believe as did the Apostle Thomas. May He also strengthen our faith and hope so that following all of the tribulations of this life – the loss of our brothers, sisters, parents, friends, and acquaintances, we know that there is the One who says: ”I am the resurrection and life” (Jn. 11, 25). And He is the ”pledge of our resurrection” (1Cor. 15, 20).
Let us make the presence of His resurrection – that is of Christ Himself – in our lives a priority. That event is not something from the past, but rather something truly living and always true. We need to be interested not only in the fact that our Lord resurrected but that we live through Him in faith, hope, and love. St. Gregory the Theologian said: ”On this day salvation was given to the world. Christ rose from the dead – you rise with Him also. Christ left the tomb – you too should tear off the chains of sin. The old Adam is destroyed and a new one is created – make yourself a new creation in Christ”.
We are grateful from the bottom of our heart for all your donations to our Diocese, monastery, all our parishes, and anyone who needed help. May the resurrected Lord repay you in His Heavenly Kingdom. We hope that your support will not cease.
We greet you wholeheartedly with the most beautiful and joyous greeting of all:
CHRIST IS RISEN! INDEED HE IS RISEN!
Your intercessor before our resurrected Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,
BISHOP OF CANADA