Paschal Message 2014

Beloved clergy, religious, and faithful of the Eparchy of Newton,

Christ is risen! He is truly risen!

These joyful words announce the main proclamation of our Christian faith. These words form the heart of the Church’s preaching, worship, and spiritual life: “If Christ had not been raised, then our preaching is in vain, and your faith is in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:14).

We celebrate the Passover of the Lord—the Christian Passover when Christ passes over from death to life, an event of victory and triumph. The early Church was so vividly aware of the eternal significance of Christ’s resurrection in God’s plan of salvation that this Feast became the greatest event of the Christian year—indeed, the Feast of Feasts! …And by His death He has trampled upon death—here trampling means Christ destroyed the power of death and to those in the tombs He granted life.

Great Lent was intense for some of us; Holy Week was even more so, but the three small words announcing the Resurrection—Christ is risen!—repeated again and again, produce ecstasy and overflowing mystical joy, for the ancient fear of death is banished. We need to make the next forty days more important by joyfully living and witnessing Christ in all our words and deeds. Great Lent was our time to reflect on renewing our Christian life received in holy Baptism; Pascha moves us from reflection to action: we must become the living Christ to all.

The resurrection of Jesus is not just the personal survival after death of Jesus. It is not a simple announcement of life after death; it is much more. It is a new era for all of us. As God has entered our history to defeat and overcome evil, the greatest witness to the Gospel is us—people whose lives have received new power and who recognize our gifts in His triumph.

We are filled with new power, new wisdom, new enthusiasm. We experience the living Christ in ourselves, and we recognize Him in each other. The Resurrection must make a great change in us—each and every one! We are the “good news” that Jesus is alive. Christ is risen—and me too!

St. Gregory the Theologian speaks loud and clear in his Paschal Oration:

Let us become like Christ, since Christ became like us.
Let us become divine for His sake, since for us He became man.
He assumed the worse that He might give us the better.
He became poor that by His poverty we might become rich.
He came down that we might be lifted up.
He was tempted that we might conquer.
He was dishonored that He might glorify us.
He died that He might save us.
He ascended to lift us who had fallen.
Yesterday I died with Him; today, I am made alive!

My brothers and sisters, live your Paschal joy as children of God! May the joy of this Feast of Feasts fill you with overflowing life and joy, and may we be the icons of Christ to all.

With my prayers and blessings, I remain

Sincerely yours in the risen Christ,
Most Reverend Nicholas J. Samra
Bishop of Newton