Bishop’s 2016 Paschal Letter

arabic translation

Dearly Beloved Clergy and Faithful,

Christ is risen! He is truly risen!

“We celebrate the very death of death, and the overthrow of Hades, and the beginning of another life which is eternal. Let us sing in joy to the Author of these marvels: the only blessed and most glorious God of our Fathers!” (Pascha Ode 7)

Christ is risen from the dead – this is the proclamation of the good news of our Christian faith! The preaching, worship, and spiritual life of the Church flow abundantly from this event. St. Paul tells us “if Christ has not been raised, then empty is our preaching; empty too, your faith” (1 Cor 15:14). The resurrection of Christ is the core and center of our preaching; it is the reason for our preaching, and it is the basic reality of our faith and life.

As we profess that Jesus has risen in a new and glorious form, we also profess that our humanity, too, has been raised with Him to a new and glorious form–the heavenly life: from dust of the earth, to people of divinity; from children of Adam, to images of the living God shining forth in Christ Jesus.

Some people question what practical effect the Resurrection has on us today. What does it mean for me today? The resurrection of Christ created for us a new mode of living. Today many lives are filled with emptiness, despair and meaninglessness. People are in great need for a new mode of life–not some technological advancement or new gimmick; but rather, the risen life in Christ.

The Lord’s resurrection was a victory in the decisive battle against evil and death. While the battle continues today for much of humanity, for those who live in Christ the victory has already been accomplished. In Christ, God entered into death and won. St. John Chrysostom expressed this beautifully in his Paschal Homily:

“Today salvation has come to the world, today forgiveness has risen from the grave. Let no one fear death, for the death of our Savior has set us free.
Christ is risen, and the evil ones are cast down.
Christ is risen and the angels rejoice.”

So the new mode of life produced by Christ’s resurrection is one of victory and triumph – a new era for the human race. It is a victory over sin, a victory over death, a victory over despair. We are filled with hope: our faith tells us that God is in control, and that when we entrust our life to Him, our end will never be crucifixion and death, but resurrection and eternal life.

Our resurrection is not only a future promise: it begins now and continues into eternity. When we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior, He gives us a new quality of life now – a power over sin, a new perspective, a new joy, a new peace, a new love. The Lord opens our tombs of sin and lifts us up to live His life. He opens our tombs of death and raises us to a new quality of living here and now, a quality of life that will endure forever!

“Shout joyfully to God, all you on earth. Sing praise to the glory of His name; proclaim His glorious praise. Say to God, ‘How awesome are your deeds! So great is your power that your enemies cringe before you’” (Psalm 95).

I pray for all of you most especially on this Feast of Feasts and ask the risen Lord to extend His powerful hand to each and every one to raise you to His victory over sin and death and to grant you hope over despair, and the opportunity to love and forgive each other. I ask for your prayers for me.

Sincerely in the risen Lord,

✠ Most Reverend Nicholas J. Samra
Eparchial Bishop of Newton