For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received,
how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
and that He was buried, and that He rose again on the third
day according to the scriptures. (1 Cor. 15, 3-4)
Dear brothers and sisters,
The great Apostle says that the Lord Christ suffered, and was buried, and resurrected as was foretold in the Scriptures. And even the Lord Himself, after His resurrection, explains to His disciples what was prophesised of Him in the laws, and through the prophets (Lk. 24, 27). These words of the prophets could only have been about Him.
Now, for nearly two millenniums we have celebrated the Resurrection of Christ as the ‘’feast of all feasts’’ and the ‘’celebration above all celebrations’’. Moreover, this celebration is always something new – something contemporary. Why? Because, even today, it spiritually resurrects from a sinful state anyone who believes in the risen Christ. It reveals and explains the mystery of our life and death. But not only the mystery for us, but for all of creation. In other words, that nothing is terminated by death. This is where we see that the mystery of life is indestructible. And that, in everything which lives, the law that it shall be born, grow, and die, is enshrined from its inception. Let us just look at a grain of wheat – one is planted so that we may receive hundreds. Did not the Lord explain this to us when He said: ‘’ Verily, verily, I say unto you, except a grain of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abides alone: but if it dies, it brings forth much fruit’’ (Jn. 12, 24).
Let us contemplate on this mystery. Wheat is planted in the fall, and the grains remain underground throughout the winter under frost, cold, and snow. But when spring arrives, and the sun warms the earth, the grain begins to grow, freeing itself of the restraints of the ice and hardened soil. And the grain, which had previously died, falling apart, losing its shell and core, but not its life-giving germ, grows into a multidimensional plant. Is this not a victory over death through death, in this created nature? It surely is. For us, this is a mystery. And the mystery of life is closely tied to the mystery of death. And of course, vice versa.
Our Lord Jesus Christ, as God, did not have to die. But he accepted our mortal worldly nature so that He may make it immortal through His death. Death could not be defeated in any other way. Otherwise human nature could not be healed of mortality and rottenness.
Dear brothers and sisters,
We should not be ashamed, in these light and holy days, to greet each other, and even our enemies, instead of ‘’good morning, good day, or good evening’’ with the most joyous greeting: Christ is risen! And who should we be ashamed of? The risen Christ? The holy apostles, martyrs, hierarchs, venerable mothers and fathers, whom with their lives and deaths confirmed the truth above all truths that Christ the Saviour resurrected from the dead? God help the one who is ashamed of Him? For then He will turn us away in front of His angels and His Heavenly Father (Lk. 9, 26).
Let us hurriedly bring the light and joy of Christ’s resurrection to our homes, just as the myrrhbearing women and the apostles ran to announce the Good News to their loved ones. The resurrected Christ shall awaken those who, with faith and hope, are merely spiritually sleeping, as the holy apostle St. Paul says: ‘’Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light’’ (Eph. 5, 14). And let us not allow the light of the Risen Christ, received at our baptisms, and particularly when we commune of the Body and Blood of the Lord, to ever depart from our souls. Let us not forget that the light of Christ enlightens all those who receive Him with faith and love. The light of Christ enlightens all.
During these days, let us especially be mindful of our brothers and sisters in Kosovo and Metohija, and all Orthodox Christians around the world – that the Resurrected Lord will give them physical and spiritual strength, and enlighten them so that they carry through all suffering, toils, and troubles.
We thank you all for your selfless help to our diocese, monastery, churches, and all those who were in need. May the Resurrected Lord Jesus Christ reward you with his eternal Heavenly Kingdom.
Sincerely and wholeheartedly we send you warm greetings with the joyous exclamation:
CHRIST IS RISEN! INDEED HE IS RISEN!
Your intercessor before the Risen Lord,
BISHOP OF CANADA