Paschal Homily 2006
- Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen!
Christ is Risen! What a glorious exclamation that rings in the ears
from the very first moments of Pascha. This is the cry of our victory
that Christ is Risen! and death has been defeated and undone. Over the
whole of the year we work and struggle and labor in the working out of
our salvation culminating in the great struggle that is Great Lent.
Sometimes we wonder, why am I doing this, what is the purpose of all
this? Can't I just enjoy life without putting forth all this energy?
How does fasting help me? What do my prayers accomplish? Why should I
deny myself? What does it all get me?
Then, after the greatest, most intense struggle of all, Holy Week, comes
the answer to all of our questions all of our doubts and fears - it is
the bright and glorious Pascha. Even in the middle of the night, it is
as though there is no more darkness for the light of Christ shines on
the soul and fills all that is around us with its brilliance. The
moment we hear that "Christ is Risen!" joy rises up within our souls and
we realize that death is not an end, but simply a new beginning. Death
is not the trap that holds us but the doorway to a new and richer life.
Our vision no longer stops at death, but we see now beyond death into
the Life of the Kingdom of God. Death does not stop us, but simply
admits us now to a greater joy and a greater glory. All this is
possible because Christ is Risen!, because by accepting death for our
sakes, He has destroyed death for our salvation. Death could not
contain the One Who is Life and so was destroyed. Death could not stop
the God/man Jesus Christ and so was annihilated. Death is broken, death
is ripped apart, death is no more - for Christ is Risen!
In destroying death, Jesus Christ opened for us the door of Paradise.
He made it possible for us, who had been trapped by death and stopped
short on our journey into His Kingdom to be released, to continue to our
goal, to enter into paradise. Death had been a trap, brought on by our
sins, but Jesus Christ opened the trap, released its captives and then
destroyed it forever.
If we look at our faith through the eyes of this life alone, we might
seem to be obsessed with death - Christ on the Cross, the icons of dead
saints, the relics of saints venerated and lying about for all to see.
We eat the Most Holy Body of Christ and drink His Most Precious Blood.
Death seems to be all around us. But that is only true if our vision
stops at death. Once we realize that death is no longer a barrier, that
death no longer can hold us, that death has indeed been destroyed then
we look beyond death into Life and we see the true nature of our Faith.
Christ on the Cross is not a symbol of defeat, but a token of the great
co-suffering love of God - for by enduring death, He destroyed death.
Christ is Risen! The icons of the saints and their relics are no longer
images of those dead, but rather of those who are more alive than we
are. They have passed through death, not being trapped by it, not being
captured and held, but by the grace and mercy of God they have passed
through death as though through a doorway and are now filled with Life.
The Holy Mysteries which we receive are not the flesh and blood of a
dead man, but the very essence of Life which joins us to the Living
Christ and which fills us with Life, transforming us into new creatures,
creatures of light and life united with one another and with God.
Through this Life we become who we were meant to be; through this Life
we fulfill the purpose of our Creation. Through this life, death and
the sin that brought it about are banished from us. The evil one, who
sought to master us through sin, is now banished and chained, no longer
able to even bear the light of Christ within us.
Christ is Risen! and death is no more. Christ is Risen! and all things
are made new. Christ is Risen! and we are filled with Life. Christ is
Risen from the dead, trampling down death by death and upon those in the
tombs bestowing life!
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]