Sermon on the Pascha of Christ - XPUCTOC BOCKPECE!
- Sermon on the Pascha of Christ
Bishop Jonah (Pokrovsky; +1925) of Hankow, Glorified by the Russian
Orthodox Church Outside of Russia in October 1996
Christ is Risen!
For several years now, we greet the Pascha of Christ amidst horrors and
rivers of blood from world conflict. The joy of the Resurrection,
unconquered by any power, once again descends to earth, an earth shrouded
in great sorrow, flooded by the outpouring of tears of the orphaned and
suffering, amid the din of moaning and wailing of peoples, martyrs for the
faith and for God?s truthЙ
Could the unendurable sufferings of hundreds of thousands of human souls
not be rewarded by Higher Truth?
There is only one satisfactory answer to this eternal question?the
resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ from the grave. Only the joy of the
Resurrection more than compensates for all the sorrows of the world, and it
will not be defeated unto the ages!
The Resurrection of the Lord makes sense of human suffering, raising it to
the level of a redeeming sacrifice for the oceans of human lawlessness.
Everyone who suffers, believing in the Redeemer of the world, participates
in the mystery of Christ?s Cross, and thereby draws closer that moment of
inexpressible blessedness, when evil and death will be forever defeated by
Him who rose from the dead?heaven will unite with earth, and the foundation
will be laid for a new life, the mere glimpse of which will cast out
memories of the oceans of human blood and cruel sufferingsЙ The martyrs of
all ages, of all countries and peoples, filled with the glorious
celebration, will sing to the Lord God the song of love and gratitude, for
they will fully understand then God?s aim for the existence of the
Christ is Risen?and all becomes bright, like God?s heaven on a glorious May
morning; one believes in Divine Truth reigning over the world, through all
the horrors of human strife?the holy love of Christ shines brightly over
the earthЙ The pains endured by the finest souls are not for naught: they
purchase a higher good, the joy of eternity, and one instant of the great
happiness to come immeasurably overcomes all earthly tribulationsЙ
Blessed are those that suffer when they are filled with this unwavering
hope, and among this myriad sufferers we, of course, are closer still?for
our mother is suffering, our Holy RussiaЙ
If we pose a general question?what is happening in the life of Russia
now??the response would be brief:
From her first moments, Rus' has traveled the way of the cross, and now she
enters a region of horror and suffering, where the great words are drawing
near: "Everything is done!"
The Golgotha of the life of Russia is not only represented by the internal
strife of recent years?our suffering has spilled over into science,
painting, literature, architecture, music, into art in general?everywhere
there is suffering for the ideal, for the attainment of truth.
To be fair, one of the finest painted characterizations of our existence is
"Holy Russia" by Nesterov. See how it moves from the Golgotha of daily life
towards Resurrection?it drags itself from the tortures of daily life
towards the peaceful port?Christ and His truth!
The historic and social sufferings of the Russian people have given our
music a minor key; as Nekrasov says, we have "created music as though it
were a groanЙ"
The Russian people have lain down a great deal at the foundations of their
culture?their unusual patience and labor?and what are these invaluable
properties interwoven with?
The Russian person, as Nekrasov says, "works himself to death, drinks
himself half to deathЙ"
If we ignore the sinful exceptions, then there is a single explanation for
Recall the alcoholic from among the intelligentsia?one of the heroes of
Dostoevsky, MarmeladovЙ What did he seek, spending his days in pubs and
"Sorrows, sorrows did I seek in the bottom of this glass," he said,
emptying his cup in Raskolnikov's presence: "Sorrows and tearsЙI sought
them and I found themЙ"
Then behold how the depth of our Christian hope for the resurrection of man
and faith in the mercy of the Lord was manifested in him when, in his
fantasy, he painted a picture of the great mercy the Creator had for the
weakness of drunkards.
"Come, all drunkards, come all ye weak ones," Marmeladov imagines Christ
will say on the Day of Judgment:
"Ye are swine..."
What faith and immeasurable love of the Lord towards His sinning?and yet,
crown-wearing?creatures; faith in the victory of man, in his rebirth, in
the renewal of lifeЙ
Faith in the future inspired Raskolnikov to boldly embark on the path of
redeeming his guilt of causing suffering, and through it, towards his own
rebirth, and to take along with him Sonya Marmeladova, who traveled a
thorny path herself.
Remember the wonderful passage in Crime and Punishment wherein Raskolnikov
and Sonya are immersed in the Gospel reading on the resurrection of
Here is the moment during their own Golgotha when "salvation" from their
past occurred, when a new, bright life was ignited above the darkness of
These were undoubtedly people who strove for Truth, yearned for it, but
were trapped in the crypt of human habit, who felt so profoundly the power
of Christ that, together with the resurrected Lazarus, they emerged from
their tombs, sensed a new life within themselves, giving them the ability
to act with love...
And the entire Russian nation, believing in Christ and His truth, believes
in its resurrection and in the renewal of life, forging its will in the
fires of suffering.
This faith in resurrection adds bright notes into the art of sorrow, and,
for instance, the morose Chekhov, through the words of some of his heroes,
says: "We will see a bright life, joyful, wonderful, we will be happy and
we will restЙ I believe fervently, passionatelyЙ"
The sum, one might say, of the sadness of such a wide range of types within
Russian society lies in the unattained Divine Truth, understood by each in
his own way, but still, TruthЙ
But since the One perfect Truth is God, then, consequently, the striving of
mankind to live by the truth, that is, "in a good way," can be compared to
striving to live "by God," to be reborn for a new life.
Man needs God and needs immortality in order to believe in the victory of
"If there were no God," says Chekhov's protagonist in Ward No. 6, "He would
have been invented by manЙBut I believe deeply that if there were no
immortality, then sooner or later some great human mind would event itЙ"
Notice the two "ifs," and with such faith in the "crown of creation," in
its inextinguishable brightness.
"If there were no GodЙIf there were no immortalityЙ" one sees here the
importance of both.
The Russian people will find their resurrection, and then their eternal
life in the hereafter, only through suffering, for they are loyal to Him
Who through sufferings Himself granted the possibility to attain true life
That is why suffering is not feared by the Russian people who understand
the words of their Divine Teacher: "In the world ye shall have tribulation:
but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world."
Without a doubt, this year the Pascha of Christ will fill the hearts of
Russian people with deluges of heavenly light and angelic rejoicing.
Everything is as it was before, the all-powerful, eternally triumphant holy
words of the great greeting will resound the world over?Christ is Risen!