On this chosen and holy day, when the entire world, both visible and invisible (from Canon of Holy Pascha), praises the Author of Life and the Victor over Death, I warmly greet you all with the Paschal exclamation:
Christ is Risen!
Year in, year out, the good news of the Resurrection sounds triumphantly, prompting us to praise our God and Saviour, who vanquished death by death, making us partakers of the eternal life to come. As we celebrate this feast of feasts and celebration of celebrations, we remember in a special spiritual way the redemptive feat of the Saviour of the world, His sufferings on the cross, and Easter Sunday. Easter isn’t just some beautiful legend, it isn’t theoretical theology, nor is it a tribute to folk customs rooted in the distant past. It’s the very essence and core of Christianity. It’s a victory, granted to us by God.
Since the times of the Apostles to the present day, the Church preaches Christ’s Resurrection as the greatest miracle in the history of mankind. The Church teaches that this miracle isn’t only a fact attested by the Gospel, but… this is especially important… it’s a fundamental event for everyone who takes hold of Easter’s glad tidings. This holiday is particularly relevant to each of us; for in the Resurrection of Christ, the perfect Lord redeemed our fallen world… this is the greatest joy that a person can experience. No matter how difficult our life, whatever worldly adversities we face, whatever anguish we get from people, and the suffering we have from the imperfections of the world… all this is nothing compared to the spiritual joy that the hope of eternal salvation from God gives us.
According to the Apostle St Paul, who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to our mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in us (cf. Epistle of St Paul to the Romans 8.11). On the bright day of the Resurrection of Christ, the souls of millions of believers are filled with gratitude to our Creator, giving our earthly existence real meaning. Christ’s Pascha is a great celebration of life, a celebration of victory over death, carrying love, peace, and spiritual transformation. Every time that we celebrate Easter, it opens a new period of our lives, because the Risen Lord renews our human nature, strengthens us in trials, and gives us the fervour to perform good deeds.
The Easter tidings changed the subsequent course of world history; today, they lead us to moral transformation and spiritual renewal, which are essential to modern society. They remind all people about Christianity’s origins, as well about the future eternal kingdom, where God will be all in all (First Epistle of St Paul to the Corinthians 15.28). In these bright days of Easter celebration, we’re called to share our joy with our family and friends, to show them active love and mercy. This is a time-honoured tradition… if we do this, we bear witness to the legacy of Christ, and we show that we believe that the Lord is risen indeed.
Now, as always, the Church carries out its lifesaving mission with diligence and zeal, persistently proclaiming God’s truth, affirming the continuing importance of the Evangelical commandments, calling for peace and harmony, and serving the spiritual unity of the peoples under the pastoral care of the Moscow Patriarchate. Our special prayer today concerns the Russian and Ukrainian peoples, that peace may prevail in the hearts and minds of brothers and sisters by blood and by faith, to rebuild lost connections, and to reinvigorate much-needed coöperation. Proclaiming the love of God (cf. Epistle of St Paul to the Ephesians 3.19), Christianity unites people across national, cultural, and state boundaries; for the light of Christ enlightens all (cf. Gospel according to St John 1.9).
May the Risen Lord grant us all for the benefit of our souls to continue our earthly pilgrimage, bearing in mind our high calling of Christian responsibility and vocation to build strong belief and confidence in those about us, in sincere love and unwavering hope. May the joy of this holiday strengthen and inspire us to do good deeds, give us the courage and strength in the midst of the surging waves in the sea of life to keep balance and calm, to resist temptations and seductions, to overcome, according to St Sergei of Radonezh, the hateful strife of this world. May the life-giving light of the glory of Christ’s tomb be with us and illumine our hearts, extending to all near and far, to all who need our care and support.
I greet all of you on the feast of Holy Easter; I prayerfully wish you generous spiritual gifts, good health, and the grace of divine help in the victorious march of Christ. Amen.
His Holiness Kirill Gundyaev
Patriarch of Moscow and all the Russias
19 April 2014
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