Orthodox Observer - April 20, 1998



Beloved in Christ:

Christ is Risen!

Now that we have passed through the journey of Great Lent and finally arrived at the Resurrection, I would spend a few moments with you and reflect on the love of our Great High Priest, our Lord Jesus Christ, that we witnessed during this past Holy Week.

What did we enter the Churches throughout our Holy Archdiocese to see? Did we see a king surrounded by his court, or the King of Kings surrounded by betrayal, denial and hatred? Did we see a bridegroom surrounded by the joy of a marriage feast, or the Bridegroom of the Church transfixed by the nails and pierced by the lance? Did we see a priest adorned in splendid vestments offering bread and wine, or the Great High Priest offering His own Flesh and His own Blood for the life of the world?

My beloved brothers and sisters and children in the Lord, we beheld the Captain of our faith and the Prince of life suspended on the Cross, buried in the Tomb and finally risen from the dead ... for us, for our salvation and for our eternal life. We relived that last week in His earthly walk as if we were really there. Time collapsed and the centuries were overcome as the Mystery of our Faith unfolded before us in the sacred services of Holy Week. This annual commemoration and holy observance is more than a simple ritual, much more. It is the very essence of our faith as Orthodox Christians.

Everything that we do in our Church and everything that we are as Greek Orthodox finds its center, its meaning and its purpose in the Mystery of Holy Week. Even if we have utterly forgotten what it means to be a Christian, it is impossible to attend Church services during this week and be unaware of what our faith is really about.

We often spend our time in Church life defining our spiritual life according to human, even secular and political standards. We judge our own history according to our own incomplete and even faulty interpretation. We forget the benefit of our souls for the validation of our egos. And then, in this dark night of spiritual ignorance and forgetfulness, the Bridegroom comes.

He comes to call us back to His love, to His saving forgiveness, to the power of His Resurrection and to the gift of His All-Holy Spirit. Can any of us have remain unmoved and tearless as we saw Him betrayed, arrested, torn from His Disciples and from His Holy Mother, insulted, spit upon, tortured, crucified and lying dead in the grave? Can any heart have been so callous, so stony, so unfeeling that it did not break just a little bit, to see our God suffering and dying for our sake?

My beloved friends, the joy of the Resurrection does not so much cancel out the pain of these moments, but bears the fruit of these labors. We can live in the light of the Resurrection only if we have descended into the darkness with Him. Remember, when the stone was rolled away, the Lord had already risen. The tomb was opened not for Him, but for us. The Tomb was opened that we might enter into His death through Baptism, and find the meaning in our life through the life He lived and gave for the life of the world.

As we continue to celebrate the Pascha of the Lord over the coming weeks of the Paschal Season, may we find the encouragement and the eagerness to run to His Tomb, as did the Myrrh-bearers and the Disciples on that first day of the week, and enter more deeply into the Mystery of our Faith.

[ Orthodox Observer - April 20, 1998 - p. 10 ]