Christ is Risen!
April 2020 | Issue No. 9
By His death Christ abolished the devil that until then had the power of death,
thus liberating humanity that used to be enslaved by their fear of death.
Fr Joshua’s Message
The Resurrection of Christ is the foundation of the crown of our Orthodox Christian Faith. The Resurrection of Christ is also the first, most important, great truth, with the proclamation of which the Apostle began their preaching of the Gospel after the descent of the Holy Spirit. Just as by the death of Christ on the Cross, our Redemption was accomplished, therefore, by His Resurrection eternal life was given to us. Hence, the Resurrection of Christ is the object of the Church’s constant triumph, its unceasing rejoicing, which reaches its summit in the Feast of the Holy Christian Pascha- “Today all creation is glad and rejoices, for Christ has risen!” (Canon of Pascha, Canticle 9).
Within the light of the resurrected Christ, we understand that no death has “meaning” or positive significance other than which is beyond death, in the life that the reality of death both hides and reveals, giving us access to it. This awareness can be ours, however, only from within the event of the Lord’s Resurrection. Therefore, we will begin with the Resurrection itself, and only then will we ask the question, “Death, where is your victory?” The true fact of death, however, is the result of man’s fall and his free choice to disobey God and thus break communion with Him. Death is, human being’s ultimate enemy, “will be the last enemy to be destroyed” in the words of Apostle Paul (1 Corinthians 15:26). By means of their faith in the Resurrection of the Son and Word of God, the faithful will be able to live true life, “in abundance of life” according to John the Evangelist: (“I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly,” John 10:10). This is the life, rid of the catalytic influence of the devil, that God gave to humanity by the Resurrection of Christ, who “did trample down death and did abolish the devil”.
By His death Christ abolished the devil that until then had the power of death, thus liberating humanity that used to be enslaved by their fear of death.
“In the words of the author of the epistle to the Hebrews: “That through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Hebrews 2: 14-15) See also, “putting an end to the agony of death… because you will not abandon my soul to Hades“ in the book of the Acts of the Apostles 2:24 and 27.
In Biblical terms, we can say that the Resurrection is not a “flesh and blood” event, rather an event of the Kingdom of God, that Kingdom which dwells both among and within us. The Body of Christ that rises from the dead is truly a Body; it is a living Body. St. Paul would say, “a spiritual Body,” filled with the Breath of God, the divine essence that knows nothing of death. In order for the resurrection to be transformative for both us as the faithful Orthodox and for the world, we need to seek to draw close to the resurrected Lord and experience Him as tangibly as possible. We love life and the created world around us because they reflect the goodness and love of God, but we cannot allow ourselves to substitute the creation for the Creator. This is why God founded a Church. The Church provides us with a way to centre our loves, our thinking, our relationships, our routines, our priorities and our formation as humans made in the image of God and called to His likeness. The Church unites us to God and ushers us into His Kingdom, even while we are still in this world. “Blessed is the Kingdom…now and forever.” If you wonder why Great Lent is such a special and powerful season of grace, it is due to the fact that so many centre their lives to such a deep degree in the liturgical and sacramental life of the Church.
Further my dear brothers and sisters, in our resurrected Lord, we need to imitate the example of the Saints. While experiencing the “abundant life” Christ promises us, we also need to be prepared to meet death, whenever it comes, with a “Christian end to our lives.” If today was our last day to live in this world, how would we live? What would our agenda be?
How would this influence our choices and our priorities? What role would confession have in our life if we knew the day we would be meeting God and the opportunity of repentance would be over? The first Christians made the right choices in answering these questions, and therefore, were free of fear. Armed with an experiential conviction of Christ’s resurrection coupled with a spiritual readiness to die and meet God, these men and women went forth with joy and power. They faced every hardship and every trial with faith and a peace that surpasses all understanding. This is what God also wants for us.
May the joy, peace and transformative power of the resurrection be ours during this Paschal Season and every day of the rest of our lives.
Christ is risen! Truly He is risen!
We also need to be prepared to meet death, whenever it comes, with a “Christian end to our lives.” If today was our last day to live in this world, how would we live? What would our agenda be?