Melkite Greek Catholic Church
 

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An Easter Greeting from

Archbishop Cyril S. Bustros

April 24, 2011

Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

It gives me great joy to greet all of you, Reverend Clergy and lay faithful, on this holy and glorious Pascha of the Lord, the Feast of Feasts! I rejoice with you, echoing the clarion call of St. John Chrysostom in his beautiful Paschal homily: "Let all pious men and woman and all lovers of God rejoice in the splendor of this feast…Come you all: enter into the joy of your Lord!"

Our rejoicing is this world, seemingly in the thrall of death, is not simply foolish optimism. It is founded on our faith in Christ who conquers death. "If Christ has not risen, vain then is our preaching, and vain too is your faith" (1 Cor.15:14). For Christ is truly risen! Indeed, this astonishing reality of the glorious Resurrection of the Lord is the fount and foundation of our holy faith and the cause of our rejoicing. Life Itself has trampled down Death by His death and given life to all who are in their tombs! Neither our preaching, nor our rejoicing is in vain, for Christ, Who was slain for our sins, "rose again on the third day…and appeared to Cephas, and after that to the Eleven. Then, He was seen by more than five hundred brethren at one time…After that He was seen by James, and then by all the disciples" (1 Cor. 15:4-8).

Hardly could the Myrrh-bearing Women have believed this astounding news, had they not seen the Crucified One Himself—alive—with their own eyes! And so they went in haste rejoicing and proclaiming this great Good News. And all the witnesses of the Lord's Resurrection continued in haste to preach this joyous news until, in only a few short years, the entire world had heard their proclamation. For two thousand years, the Church has not ceased to bear witness to the reality of Christ's Resurrection and to proclaim to the world that, in Christ, sin and death are defeated and that God's love reigns supreme.

Still, in our modern world there remain many forces of death, both those which beset us personally and those which continue their arrogant assault into the very structure and functioning of our society. These dark forces attack goodness, truth, and beauty in every way: the plague of abortion continues to destroy the lives of countless innocents in their mothers' wombs; the rampant promotion of promiscuity and perversity, even to our children, threatens the moral compass of our nation; the efforts of homosexuals to pervert the sacred bond of marriage and claim it as a "right" threatens the very foundation of human civilization, the family; and wars and bloody conflicts throughout the world, especially in the ancient lands of our own Church, sacrifice human lives and cause untold suffering. Indeed, Satan is raging even in his efforts to silence the Church and its message of Resurrection and new life, while martyrs for the Faith are again being added to the roles of the Saints. "Hades is angered because it is frustrated…It is angered because it is now captive… Christ is risen and the demons are cast down!"

It is not foolish optimism that causes our rejoicing at holy Pascha. It is our firm belief in the sublime truth of Christ's Resurrection. For it is exactly in times such as these that we need to hear proclaimed with full voice and vigor: Christ is risen, and has trampled down Death by His death! And this proclamation must not be mere words or custom, but the catalyst for the renewal of our life of faith and our witness to the world. For, indeed, we proclaim, Christ IS risen, not Christ was risen. Christ is risen and alive now in our midst. He lives and is present in His mystical Body, the Church. He lives in the hearts of all who truly seek Him and believe in Him. The Resurrection is an ever-present reality to be grasped and experienced in the life of every believer.

The message of Christ's Resurrection not only gives us hope of everlasting life after death, but really calls us to experience this new life of the Resurrection now: resurrection from the life of sin. For we experience this new life only when we die to ourselves and rise from our sins. Jesus bore our sins to the Cross. Fulfilling the ancient Jewish rite of sin offering, He is the true lamb who was slain with our sins on his back. "Upon Him was the chastisement of us all" (Is 53:5). He offered His body and blood on the Cross to take away our sins, giving us, in return, His slain Body and Blood as the source and sustenance of our new life, risen from sin.

Jesus has already given His life for us: now, He continues to give His life to us. His Divine Body is the sustenance of our life and He purifies us of our sins in Confession. He joins together man and women in love in holy Matrimony and heals our body and soul in holy Anointing. He speaks to our hearts in the words of Sacred Scripture. As He descended into Hades, casting out the darkness by His brilliant light, and He drew forth Adam and Eve from the chains of death, so too, He desires to release us from the shackles of our sins and selfishness and pride and to draw us forth to live the new life of resurrection, a life risen from sin.

May you and your loved ones live the new life in Christ and, thus living, may you know the joy that overcomes all sadness and the tranquility that banishes all anxiety.

Christ is truly risen!

Yours in our Risen Lord,

-|- Archbishop Cyril S. Bustros

Eparch of Newton

   

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