To the clergy, religious and faithful of the Eparchy of Ss. Peter and Paul
Christ is Risen,
The celebration of the Resurrection of Christ is full of images – the empty tomb – the angel’s voice, “he is not here, he is risen from the dead.” Mary Magdalen’s encounter with Jesus, the promises made through the prophets coming true. We can see the scene in front of us. The tropar, “Christ is risen from the dead, conquering death by death, and to those in the graves, he has given life.””, keeps repeating itself over and over in the paschal liturgy, from Easter Sunday and for the next 40 days. Why? Because this is what it is all about. A spectacular event that is a once , never to be repeated event… that is so unique, it does not fit into categories.
When we talk about the resurrection of Jesus, we have nothing to compare it to. This is something that does not fit into words. There is a struggle to put it into words or even concepts understandable by us. As much as people have tried over the centuries to explain it, all they succeeded in doing was to make Jesus resurrection fit their own understanding, rather than trying to make our own lives fit the resurrection. Perhaps the resurrection is not a defining and explaining event, but believing and allowing it to become the focus of our spiritual life.
Many people over the years have talked in great intellectual terms about resurrection theology. St John Chrysostom however wrote the classic sermon on the resurrection. It was and is held in such high regard that it is read at the resurrection matins on Easter morning, from his time, till today, from generation to generation. If we do take it seriously it will totally change our practice of social justice
I have never stopped being amazed by how st John Chrysostom starts his sermon.
“Let all pious men and all lovers of God rejoice in the splendor of this feast; let the wise servants blissfully enter into the joy of their Lord; let those who have borne the burden of Lent now receive their pay, and those who have toiled since the first hour, let them now receive their due reward; let any who came after the third hour be grateful to join in the feast, and those who may have come after the sixth, let them not be afraid of being too late; for the Lord is gracious and He receives the last even as the first. He gives rest to him who comes on the eleventh hour as well as to him who has toiled since the first: yes, He has pity on the last and He serves the first; He rewards the one and praises the effort.
Come you all: enter into the joy of your Lord. You the first and you the last, receive alike your reward; you rich and you poor, dance together; you sober and you weaklings, celebrate the day.”
He invites all to celebrate the resurrection, the most pious and the least. This is confusing, and simply makes no sense, until you put it into the context of the parables of Jesus, where Jesus rewards the last as much as the first, and asks us to be positive.and grateful. He also invites us to stop wasting our time judging. According to st John Chrysostom the first and most important lesson he is offering on discussing the resurrection. Is community, accepting everybody, no matter who.
Come you all: enter into the joy of your Lord. You the first and you the last, receive alike your reward; you rich and you poor, dance together; you sober and you weaklings, celebrate the day;
Think about this, we are called to celebrate Jesus, and to celebrate him with absolutely everybody, no matter how who he is. Money is not a judge of success strength is not a measure of success either. It seems as if the one thing that is needed is to be able to accept absolutеly everybody, no matter who or what they are. If we can interiorize this, we would have done something amazing
May God bless us all and keep us in His care.
Christ is risen,truly he has risen.
Bishop of the Eparchy of Ss Peter and Paul