2015 Paschal Letter

My Beloved Clergy and Faithful,

Christ is risen! He is truly risen!

Pascha is our celebration of Faith and Hope, our belief and trust in God’s promise that “we have been born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and to an inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled and unfading, kept in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:3-4). Indeed, our yearning for abundant life is fulfilled by the Resurrection that gives promise for our future.

Without hope life can be very sad and painful, and we can become disillusioned in relationships, in shattered dreams, in family problems, in illness, and of course, in death. Yet Pascha proclaims an undying hope–the risen Christ comes today to bring hope and victory. He comes to bring resurrection and new life.

On Holy Friday, we heard the reading of Ezekiel’s vision of an entire valley filled with dead men’s bones. The Lord who is ever faithful breathes over the bones and brings His people back from death and captivity. This vision is fulfilled by the risen Christ who even today calls us back to life and clothes our dry, dead bones with purpose, hope, and eternal life!

On the night of His Resurrection, Jesus walks to Emmaus with two of his disciples who do not recognize Him immediately (Luke 24:13-35). In their sadness they tell Him: “We hoped that He was the one who would redeem Israel.” They mention the women, and some other disciples, finding the empty tomb, “but Him they did not see.” Jesus then interprets for them the Scriptures concerning Himself, and He opens their eyes in the “breaking of the bread.” Immediately, He brings them from the darkness of despair to the joyful light of hope in Him.

Our life, too, is often filled with shattered dreams and broken hopes. Truly, our world is still filled with problems: wars, killings, injustice, hatred, and the like. So many people lose themselves in despair. But if Christ is risen, then hope is risen! If Christ is risen, death is conquered, and we live in the everlasting arms of our beloved Savior who died so we may live. In Him “we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:13).

The risen Christ liberates us from all negativity and pessimism. Our lighted candles on Pascha remind us that we sing with full and joyful hope as we proclaim with St. John Chrysostom: “Christ is risen, and the demons are cast down. Christ is risen, and the tombs have been emptied of their dead. Christ is risen, and life is set freed” (Paschal Homily)!

Sartre speaks of the silence of God.

Heidegger speaks of the absence of God.

Jaspers speaks of the concealment of God.

Bultmann of the hiddenness of God.

Buber of the eclipse of God.

Tillich of the nonbeing of God.

Altizer of the death of God.

However, the New Testament writers–eyewitnesses–speak of the hope of the Risen and Living Lord! To Him be glory, honor, and worship, praise and thanksgiving for all ages. Amen.

My sincere and prayerful wishes that you will find your Hope in the risen Lord, and that your Paschal celebration and its forty-day festal season be filled with great joy. I offer all of you my prayers, blessing, and love.

Sincerely yours in the risen Christ,

✠ Most Reverend Nicholas J. Samra
Bishop of Newton