PASCHA 2022 - The ray of light that passes through the darkness

PASCHA 2022

The ray of light that passes through the darkness

“This is the chosen holy day, the first of all Sabbaths, their queen and sovereign; the feast of feast and festival of festivals, in which we bless Christ to the ages.”

“A sacred Pascha is manifest to us this day.” The Day of the Resurrection has dawned, clothed in splendor and joy for Mankind. For we, the Orthodox people, celebrate a feast “in the Great Church” and proclaim victories, expressing the self-conscious faith of all times. The bells of our churches ring throughout the spring night the fact that “the Lord has risen”. The bearer of victory sings the triumphant melody “Christ is risen from the dead, trampling death by death…” which echoes in our hearts and elevates salutations of joy, hope and peace up to our lips.

Yet, the turmoil and the wars that have brought upheaval to today’s Mankind, on all levels of life, give the paradoxical impression that, in reality, we are living a continuous Holy Friday. Mass media continuously projects unhuman events, irreparable damages, murders and various sorts of crimes. On a social level, it appears that people are dividing themselves into different factions of extreme opposition. On a familial and personal level, there is a type of tension that undermines trust, communication and people’s ability to remain united. This all creates questions about the significance of the celebration of this bright Feast. Hearing the joyful message of victory over death, of eternal life, of love and peace, one must ask how this message can penetrate the human heart to change and bring calm to the world. In order to solve this question, we first must backtrack and go to the Cross, and then, we must journey with the myrrh bearers to the Lord’s grave.

The difficulty in understanding and living the message of the Resurrection is related to the unfitting way we experience the Crucifixion. Usually, we view the Crucifixion as some type of melodrama, remaining distant spectators of a tragedy in the same way we view the sad events that are broadcast on our screens daily. Many often identify the passions of the Crucified Jesus only with their individual difficulties, ignoring the meaning that His sacrificial love and His redeeming love has for all of creation. In this accord, the Cross becomes a symbol of an individual effort, an ideology or a social movement that fights some type of “social injustice” or personal justification, a justice and justification that does not have anything to do with the God’s justice and righteousness.

Indeed, the Cross is the symbol of humility, pain, loneliness and injustice, but it is also the ultimate sign of God’s righteousness, a righteousness and justice that is founded on His mercy, in His will to restore the world to its premortal state, so that all of Mankind can exist within a living relationship with the Triune God. It is for this reason that the Cross is also the sign of the Resurrection; the symbol of the reconciliation and union of all.  

The “tragedy” of the Crucifixion is that Christ suffered on the Cross because this world did not accept Him. It did not recognize His divine philanthropy and did not want to reconcile and unite in His love. It is then that darkness covered all the world. When we suffer and live tragic events, like the ones we are living today, the dark reality of Mankind is revealed. This world continues to oppose the restoring justification of God as expressed on the Cross. It refuses to reconcile and unify itself in and through God’s love. On the Cross, He opens and spreads out His hands and invites us to meet Him. He descends into our individual Hades, where He bends over to lift us up from the tomb of our empty daily life. He then raises us up into a new life, to live united and fulfilled in the love of the Father and in His Eternal Kingdom.  

On the night of the Resurrection, we see the myrrh-bearers heading toward the tomb of Jesus in the dark in order to “meet” His dead body. Believing that their beloved one was the victim of a tragic injustice, they bring with them fragrances to cover the ugliness of death and to honor His body so that it will be ready to be given to mortal decay. Instead, their actions are in vain. They encounter emptiness. There at the empty tomb, an Angel heralds them that they should not seek the Lord “amongst the dead” with meaningless ritualistic rites. The Angel exclaims, “Christ is risen!” and continues to say that they must run to go to meet Him.  But first, they must go and unite themselves with His disciples and then go together to another place. “There you will see Him!”.  

Today, the ray of light of the Resurrection passes through the darkness of the tragic events that we are now experiencing. “Now are all things filled with light; Heaven and earth, and the nethermost regions of the earth”. All of creation is restored and made anew. The Resurrected Christ comes as the conqueror of hatred and conflict. He comes to meet us, so that we can become communicants of Divine Nature. He asks that we change the way live; to leave behind our “dead practices”, which only bring on grief; to allow Him to resurrect us; to grant us the peace which He only gives; to clothe us with the shining garment of the Resurrection; to live together with Him in His Eternal Kingdom. In turn, He will delegate us with the “ministry of reconciliation”; to preach reconciliation to all the world. In doing this, the events of this world will not predominate in our hearts. For the light of the Resurrection will dominate in all things.

Christ is Risen, brethren and children in the Lord!

We pray that this light, the unwaning light of the Resurrection, will shine in your hearts; that it will flood the universe and dissolve every darkness that torments modern Mankind. May you all have many and blessed years, full of the light of the Resurrection and Paschal joy!

Metropolitan Kyrillos of Rhodes,
President of the Network of the
Ecumenical Patriarchate for Pastoral Health Care