Paschal Archpastoral Letter 2008
Prot. N. 188-April 27, 2008
This is the Day
the Lord has made! Let us rejoice and be glad in it!
To the Very Reverend Protopresbyters, the Very
Reverend and Reverend Fathers, Beloved Clergy, Monastics and Faithful of the
IS RISEN! INDEED HE IS RISEN!
CHRISTOS VOSKRESE! VOISTINNU VOSKRESE!
We rejoice because we have entered into that
bright joy of the Resurrection Day. The Lord Jesus Christ was adored by the
crowds on Palm Sunday and crucified on Good Friday. This same Lord cleansed the
lepers, gave sight to the blind, bestowed hearing to the deaf, and strengthened
the lame and weary. This same Lord opened the Scripture and revealed the
majestic Wisdom of the Holy Trinity. This same Lord brought life to the dying
and hopeless, was the same Lord Who was taken down from the Holy Cross, and was
received into the heartbroken arms of His Mother, the Theotokos. This same Lord
Who created the stars, the sun, the wind and the sea and the solid earth was
sealed into a tomb of heavy, gray and lifeless stone.
Beyond all expectation, this same Lord Jesus is
Risen from the Dead in earthshaking victory! This same Lord Jesus, the Author
of Life and Faith, completely assumed the deserved condemnation of mankind. And
in His divinity, this same Lord completely overturned the doom of death and
became the Way of Life and Salvation for all mankind. As St. Basil proclaims in
the Anaphora prayer of his Liturgy, "it was not possible that the Author of
Life should see death."
Beyond all expectation, this same Lord Jesus
Christ, the God and Friend to all His disciples, the apostles, the women who
followed Him, His friends and family - was not in the expected place on that
famous Sunday morning. Mary, Salome and the Myrrhbearing Women expected Jesus
to be in the grave, lifeless, cold, empty of hope and promise, full of disappointment.
They expected to wrap His body in clean winding cloths, with a hundred pounds
of spices to mask the odor of death and corruption. This is what they expected.
But this is not what happened.
"He is not here - He is risen!" said the Angel
to the women. They were surprised and overwhelmed by the empty grave, by the
appearance of heavenly visitors clad in bright white. "Go quickly," the Angel
said, "and tell His disciples that He is Risen, and that He is going ahead of
them to Galilee, where He will meet you all face to face" (Matthew 28.6-7).
And so they went. The women ran to the
disciples who were hiding in the Upper Room (Mark 16.8: Luke 24.8). The
Apostles Peter and John ran to the Empty Tomb, and found the linen cloths
folded neatly (John 20.3-8). Luke and Cleopas ran back also, having met the
Risen Christ in Emmaus (Luke 24.33).
They were all amazed. They were all filled with
wonder. But in the brightness of that day, when everything was made new and the
Risen Christ exceeded all their expectations, they all obeyed the command to go
forth in their joy, to tell others of the glad tidings, and to meet Christ at
the appointed time.
Finding the Tomb empty, and meeting the Angels,
and seeing the Risen Lord had filled them all with fear and amazement, shock
and wonder. But as they ran from house to house, and proclaimed the news, the
amazement turned into bliss, a confident hope, and a peace that passes all
understanding. As they obeyed the Risen Lord, and as they journeyed to Galilee so they might see Him face to face, their
happiness turned into a constant joy, even warmth in the soul: for the
Resurrection of their Lord Jesus confirmed their deepest personal faith. What
they had known amongst themselves was now broadcast to the world, to the angels,
to the entire created universe: Jesus Christ, the One who walked with them,
talked with them for three years, ate with them and suffered for them - that
same One Who washed their feet on a Thursday evening - that same Lord "was
declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness,
by the Resurrection from the dead" (Romans 1.4).
Every disciple - including the Apostles, the
Mother of God and the Holy Myrrhbearers, Luke and Cleopas and the rest of the
Seventy Disciples who had gone out two by two, and at least five hundred other
followers of Christ - every disciple had been caught up with joy into the
brightness of the Resurrection. Beyond all expectation, they realized now, for
sure, that the Jesus they had followed is not only the Christ, but is the Son
And that realization made all the difference.
That one single truth was the seed of joy and peace that compelled them all to
turn their world upside down. All of them were told by the Holy Spirit to go,
and tell everyone that Christ is risen, and that He wants to meet them. All of
them obeyed and they went to their families, their villages and towns, their
synagogues, their yokefellows in the vineyards, the fields, the threshing
floors and the marketplaces.
And the world was truly turned upside down.
Within a few hundred years, the entire pagan Roman Empire
had become Orthodox Christian, and the Name of Christ was taken to the ends of
The Angels in white raiment still stand at the
Empty Tomb, and they say to all who have ears to hear, "Do not be afraid. He is
not here. He is risen, just as He said. Quickly now, go tell everyone that He
is risen, and that He will meet you face to face."
You, my beloved, have ears to hear, and so do I. Christ is Risen, and we must be surprised. Christ is
Risen, and we must be overcome by joy. Christ is Risen, and we must feel the
fire of the Spirit, shouting out that Jesus is the Risen Son of God. Christ is
Risen, and we must receive the breath of His peace. Christ is Risen, and we
must go, run, proceed into the very ends of the earth where the Gospel has not
Perhaps the ends of the earth are in our
workplace, our school, our neighborhood: Go quickly now, tell them that He is
Risen. Perhaps the ends of the earth are in our homes, our families, our
friendships: Go now, in haste, and tell them that the light shines in the
Perhaps the ends of the earth are located in
our hearts, broken by disappointed hopes. Perhaps they are located in our
minds, darkened by doubts and distractions, a mass of confusions. Go quickly
now, pray, follow Christ in Church. Read His Gospel and His Saints. Receive His
Eucharist. Go quickly now to meet the Risen Lord, face to face. Do not be
afraid. Come to His joy and peace, open your eyes to His light and life.
The world expected a Death on the Cross on that
Friday we call good. You expected it, and do did I. Death is what happens in
the world. It is certainly what happens on a Cross.
An so it did, but Death is not all that
happened on that Cross. On the Third Day, while the world was sleeping, you and
I were roused from slumber by the earthquake and the brightness, and the
dawning of the New Day beyond all expectation. Jesus Christ is Risen, and that
has made all the difference! Go ye into all the world now and tell them that
the Night is over, the Day of the Lord has begun! Tell them that it is so!
This is the Day that the Lord has made: let us
rejoice and be glad in it!
Granting you my Archpastoral Blessings on this
Greatest of Feasts, this Day of all Days, I remain
yours in Christ,
Archpastoral Letter is to be read in all Diocesan Parishes in lieu of the
regular Sermon at the
Divine Liturgy on Sunday, April 27, 2008