† B A R T H O L O M E W
BY GOD’S MERCY
ARCHBISHOP OF CONSTANTINOPLE-NEW ROME
AND ECUMENICAL PATRIARCH
TO THE PLENITUDE OF THE CHURCH: MAY THE GRACE, PEACE AND MERCY
OF CHRIST RISEN IN GLORY BE WITH YOU ALL
* * *
Dearest brother Hierarchs and beloved children in the Lord,
Having arrived at Holy Pascha and becoming partakers of the joy of the Resurrection, we praise the Lord of glory, who trampled down death by death and resurrected with Him the entire race of Adam, opening for us all the gates of paradise.
Behold, today is the day of the Resurrection: Let us glory in the feast, let us embrace one another in joy… let us forgive everything on Resurrection Day and let us all sing together: Christ is Risen!
Resurrection Day! It is the happiest day for all Orthodox believers, and the greatest celebration of our Orthodox faith that touches all hearts. Even those who for a variety of reasons attend Church infrequently, come for this great feast. Some have to travel for many miles, but they still come to hear the victorious hymn "CHRIST IS RISEN"! We see the lit candles held by the faithful, illuminating their faces with joy, and they happily crack the Pascha eggs, exchanging the Resurrection greeting: "Christ is Risen!" - "Indeed He is Risen!" Moreover, the hearts of those who have grown cold towards relatives, friends, and coworkers due to misunderstandings or other human weaknesses, are made warm again. Many touching incidents occur every year, when people who are estranged meet and embrace each other in forgiveness. The love of the Risen Christ has moved their souls, and they confirm the words of the hymnographer who says:
Brethren and children in the Lord,
Once again, Holy and Great Lent has come to a conclusion. Today, we joyfully celebrated the resurrection of Christ’s intimate friend, Lazarus, which serves as a prefigurement of the “common resurrection.” Tomorrow, we shall enjoy the feast of Palm Sunday, when we shall chant: “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest!”
Our Lord Jesus Christ with His triumphant entry in Jerusalem, for the first time in His three-year long public ministry, presents Himself to the people as the Messiah, Whose coming to the world was foretold by the Prophets. As He enters Jerusalem, He is accompanied by the triumphant welcoming of the crowd, holding palm branches and cheering: “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! The King of Israel!” (John 12:13). When the Pharisees protested this, the Lord replied: “I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out” (Luke 19:40). And this did happen a short while later, when Jesus, nailed on the cross, was breathing His last breath, “the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised” (Matthew 27:50-52). Again also, after the Lord’s Resurrection, “an Angel of the Lord … rolled back the stone from the entrance of the Tomb” (Matthew 28:2) in order for the Myrrh-bearing women to be able to enter, and witness Christ’s rising from the dead as God Almighty.
"O Earth, proclaim the glad tidings of great joy!”
Today’s celebration is one of the highest joys for all humanity. Archangel Gabriel's salutation “hail” to the Virgin Mary of Nazareth had an extensive influence on every human being, of all generations. The feast day hymns proclaim this joy: "Today is the festivity of joy"; "Today the whole creation rejoices"; “Let creation rejoice, and nature exchange greetings, for the Archangel did stand reverently before the Virgin and offered her joy instead of sorrow” (Doxastikon at Praises)