Arabic translation (PDF, 2 pages, 240KB)
Holy and Glorious Pascha 2019
My Dear Clergy and Faithful,
“Today is the day of Resurrection: let us glory in this feast and embrace one another. O brethren, let us say: ‘Because of the Resurrection we forgive all things to those who hate us’. And let us all sing together: ‘Christ is risen from the dead trampling down death by death, and to those in the tombs bestowing life.’”
Christ is risen! He is truly risen!
This Hymn is sung at the end of Orthros on Pascha and throughout the forty days thereafter. It is a stark reminder that there are still “those who hate us.” Sadly, our world is filled with hatred among nations, among politicians, among radical religious groups, and even among brothers and sisters in families, and between parents and children. Our Christian faith and beliefs are under attack, particularly regarding the life issues, as well as sexual morality. So many people have not been touched by the resurrection of Jesus Christ who proclaims, “I am the Resurrection and the Life.”
Jesus came to “make all things new” (Revelation 21:5). He came to remake life and add to it a quality it never had before. The new life of Jesus is “eternal life”, not just life that lasts forever, but rather eternal life—a participation in the life which God lives. He invites us to enter into the very divine life of God Himself.
The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the proclamation that eternal life exists. Being raised from the dead, Jesus assures us that whoever lives without God EXISTS, but does not truly LIVE. For we do not know what real life is until we rise with Christ on this great feast and every day of our life. As St. Paul says: “It is no long I who live, but Christ who LIVES in me” (Galatians 2:20).
The Resurrection of Jesus is not just His personal survival after death; it is that and much more. His resurrection means the beginning of a new era for the human race. God entered history and acted to defeat and overcome the power of evil. He healed the sick, released the possessed from bondage, and converted sinners. The Resurrection proclaims new hope for all of us: as Jesus served, we are to serve; as Jesus loved, we are to love; as Jesus forgave, we are to forgive, and, indeed, as the opening hymn says, “we forgive all things even to those who hate us.”
Christ destroys evil and death and is victorious. We too are victorious since He lives in us. With St. Paul we shout out, “Death is swallowed up in victory. O Death, where is your victory? O Death where is your sting? The sting of death is sin… but thanks to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:55-57)!
Christ offers us victory over self. For victory to have meaning we must begin with ourselves. Many church-going Christians are not victorious but defeated – Christians in name only. They have a form of religion but not its power. For them life is self-centered, never making a total commitment to Christ. The resurrection of Christ is our victory, our renewal, our rising from our sins to new life. Our faith in Christ’s resurrection is not an escape from reality, but rather victory. We do not run away from sinfulness, but we conquer it through Christ who said, “be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
As your bishop, I exhort you on this Feast of feasts to strengthen your Christian commitment in prayer, in service to each other, and to remain strong witnesses within your parish communities and in the Church in general. Speak up for human rights from conception to natural death. Oppose those who uphold evils contrary to our Christian faith. Be a resurrection person committed to life.
I pray for all of you and most especially during this resurrection season. May you be at peace with each other, and may we all rise from sin and embrace one another in joy as we proclaim: Christ is risen! He is truly risen!
Sincerely yours in the Risen Lord,
✠ Most Reverend Nicholas J. Samra
Eparchial Bishop of Newton