Paschal Message 2013
To the Reverend Clergy, the Monastics, the Parish Councils, the Distinguished Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Day, Afternoon, and Church Schools, the Philoptochos Sisterhoods, the Youth, the Hellenic Organizations, and the entire Greek Orthodox Family Of the Holy God-Preserved Metropolis of Pittsburgh
Dearly beloved in the Lord,
Christ is Risen!
After His Resurrection from the dead, our Lord Jesus Christ's first greeting to the myrrh-bearing women was: "Rejoice!" Soon afterward, when He appeared to the Apostles, His first words were: "Peace be unto you!"
Peace and joy are the most immediate and profound results of the Resurrection. The Lord had died and His faithful followers were in a state of great confusion. It was as though all hope had perished for God's triumph over human wickedness, for the victory of good over evil. Life itself appeared hopeless and fear seemed to prevail. All that they could now expect was persecution at the hands of those who had crucified Christ.
Yet, the Resurrection was the clearest proclamation and strongest affirmation that nothing could ever separate or deprive the disciples – and us - from divine love and eternal life. In His rising from the tomb, Christ confirmed what He told His disciples on the eve of His Passion: "Take courage. I have overcome the world." (John 16.33) And, having convinced them of His Resurrection, having restored their security of peace and certainty of faith, He would command them: "As the Father has sent me, so I send you." (John 20.21) What may previously have been inconceivable was now both feasible and imperative. It was faith alone, the overwhelming conviction that "Christ had risen from the dead, trampling down death by death and bestowing life to those in the tombs," that empowered His disciples – and now empowers us - to become an invincible force capable of transforming a world of suffering and terror, a humanity of poverty and hunger, into a reality of hope and joy.
That is how the disciples went out to preach; nothing could stop them. And that is precisely how we are called to live; nothing can stop us. We are no longer defenseless or powerless. As St. John the Evangelist writes: "This is the message that we have heard and proclaim, that God is light and in Him there is no darkness" (1 John 1.5); and, "whoever is born of God overcomes the world." (1 John 5.5)
The Resurrection changes our attitude toward humanity and the world. People's lives become more precious and the world's destiny becomes more profound. Thus, those of us who believe in the Resurrection become the ones to whom God entrusts the care of the whole world, to the least of our brothers and sisters, for God places His hope and love in us so that we can bear witness to the victory of life over death and of love over hatred.
May the light of our Risen Lord shine brightly inside and around all of you, for "Truly, Christ is Risen!"
Paternally yours in the Risen Lord,