By Metropolitan Sotirios of Pisidia
"This holy and blessed day… the feast of feasts and the season of seasons.
On this day we bless Christ for ever and ever. "( Easter Ode, 8).
Easter! The All Bright Feast of the Church! Easter, the source of joy for all Christians! Orthodox Christians with great enthusiasm are rushing to the Divine Liturgy of the Resurrection in order to experience the presence of the Risen Lord and proclaim triumphantly:
"CHRIST IS RISEN"!
"A glorious Passover has shone upon us. It is a new and holy Passover” (1st Stichera of the Resurrection ). The word Easter is Aramaic and means "passage". The “Old” Easter is celebrated by the Jews. On this day they commemorate their passage through the Red Sea by the intervention of God and their rescue from the slavery of the Egyptians. The "New" Easter, the Christian Easter, is a celebration of the passage of the human race from death to life that the Risen Christ offers to us. The hymnographer echoes the features of this “passage” with beautiful poetic verses and resonant sounds: "Christ our God made us pass from death to life and from earth to heaven” (1st Ode), that is, He passed us:
-From eternal death to eternal life: The human race, due to the original sin, was subjected to death. With His Resurrection, the Lord has "transported" us to eternal life. Whoever is united with Jesus Christ through Holy Baptism and lives in communion with Him "has passed from death to life" (John 5:24). That's why we repeat triumphantly: "Christ is Risen ... and bestowed life upon those who lay in the tomb."
-From Earth to Heaven: Jesus with His Resurrection not only transported us from death to life, but also from earth to heaven! St. Paul reminds us: God has raised us up with Christ, and made us sit together in the heavenly places Christ Jesus "(Ephesians 2: 6). And St. John Chrysostom adds prayfully: "You led us to heaven and granted us the kingdom to come". (Divine Liturgy, prayer of Anaphora). Thus, He makes us worthy to become "heavenly" people!
-From the darkness to the Light: "Lord, you cast us out of darkness and the shadow of death" (6th Vesper Stichera, Tone 2). “The universes, Oh Lord, has been illuminated by your Resurrection” (Vesper Stichera, Tone 3). “Your Resurrection has enlightened the world”(Tone 6). “Your Resurrection, Oh Jesus Christ, has illuminated the whole world” (Aposticha, Tone 2) “Today the whole creation, heaven and earth and the deepest abysses of the earth are filled with light”(Ode 3rd). Therefore, at the end of every Divine Liturgy we enthusiastically proclaim: "We have seen the true Light”. This Light of the Resurrection brightens our lives.
From slavery to freedom. "Lord ... You have broken the bonds of wickedness" (6thStichera, Tone 2). “We have been delivered from the slavery of the enemy ..." (5th Stichera, Tone 4). "…Pascha, Christ the Redeemer" (1st Easter Stichera). We are no longer slaves of wickedness and sin. We enjoy the freedom of the children of God (Romans 8:21).
-From sorrow to joy. "O Pascha, delivering us from sorrow" ( 4th Easter Stichera). "Behold, through the Cross - and the Resurrection - joy has come to the world" (Resurrection prayer). “Rejoice in the feast, for Christ, our Eternal Joy is risen”, (Ode 1st, hymn 3rd). The joy that has flowed from the Tomb of the Lord is permanent in the hearts of the faithful. As Jesus Himself said to His disciples: “I will see you again – after my Resurrection - and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you” (John 16:22).
This is what we Orthodox faithful experience, when we are in constant communion with the Risen Christ. No sad events in our lives, no illness nor economic crisis or injustice, nor the wickedness of the world can in anyway remove us from this spiritual joy that the Risen Christ gives us. All these lead us to new spiritual struggles, with the grace and power of Christ and with the conviction that victory awaits us at the end.
My dear brothers and sisters, I wish all of you to live, now and always, in this all lit up atmosphere of freedom, love and joy in the resurrected presence of our Lord Jesus Christ.
CHRIST IS RISEN!
With much paternal love,
+ Sotirios Metropolitan of Pisidia