Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen!
I greet you for the feast of feasts and the festival of festivals, the Holy Pascha of our Christ.
In this feast we celebrate the love of God for us. Our God put on our nature and lived a life of self-sacrificing love so that we might be saved. He showed the ultimate love in that “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)
We read a very special prayer during the Paschal Hours during this season:
Let us who have beheld the resurrections of Christ worship our holy Lord Jesus, Who is alone without sin. We worship Thy Cross O Christ and we praise and glorify Thy Holy Resurrection. For Thou art our God and we know none other beside Thee, and we call upon Thy name. Come all ye faithful, let us worship Christ’s Holy Resurrection, for behold, through the Cross joy hath come to the whole world. Forever blessing the Lord we praise His Resurrection. He endured the Cross for us and by death destroyed death.
We have beheld the resurrection of Christ and we recognize as God, Jesus the Crucified, our Lord and Master and Champion, Who trampled upon death by enduring death. We recognize it is only through the Cross, that joy has come to the whole world. We partake of the Pascha of Christ, first by becoming members of the Body of Christ, the Church, by being initiated by Holy Baptism (an image of His death) and then we are called upon to live a life in imitation of Christ, that is a life of bearing our Cross.
As our Savior Himself said in reference to His Cross:
The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. Amen, amen, I say unto you, Except a grain of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life everlasting. If any man serve Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there shall also My servant be: and if any man serve Me, him will My Father honour. (John 12:23-26)
If we are to be saved we need to embrace the reality that, in order to follow Christ, in order to be where He is, we must carry our own cross, that is, we must learn the rudiments of self-sacrificing love. Vladika Andre wrote about this change that has to take place within each and every one of us, if we are to participate in the Passing over from death unto Eternal Life through Christ:
Our children have so-called “baby-teeth” which fall out by themselves, and in their place other teeth grow — real ones. In the same way we have a heart. But this is a coarse, carnal heart — a selfish one. With such a heart you cannot enter Eternal Life. And it will not fall out by itself. We have to cast it out and replace it with a new heart — not ours, but Christ’s. And any time we help our neighbor and make an effort, we are as if tearing off a piece of our heart and giving it away to our neighbor. And in place of this piece of carnal, sinful heart, the Lord puts in us a similar piece of His heart — Christ’s heart. –Archbishop Andrei (Rymarenko)
Thus the Cross is a symbol of a new way of life of self-sacrificing love. This life of self-sacrificing love is the “new and living way” of life in Christ. (Heb 10:19)
The life of self-sacrificing love in Christ has many facets. The Confession of the true faith is also a cross. After our Savior predicted His passion and death, Saint Peter then rebuked Him, and our Savior said to him, “Get thee behind Me, Satan: for thou mindest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men.” (Mark 10:33) And immediately our Savior called the multitudes to Himself and said:
Whosoever will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for My sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of Me and of My words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when He cometh in the glory of His Father with the holy Angels. (Mark 10:34-38)
Those of us who desire to remain faithful to Christ during these last times must never lose sight of this passage. To follow Christ is to bear one’s cross through confession of faith. To speak the truth is an act of love.
Beloved, for the sake of participating in the Pascha of Christ let us manifest in our local Church, a new and living way, the way of the Cross, the way of self-sacrificing love.
For the love of God and neighbor, let us honor the Cross and the Resurrection that we might be a light unto the nations. Our Savior ascended the Cross in order to draw all men unto Himself:
Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me. (This He said, signifying what death He should die.) (John 12: 31-33)
Let us co-operate with the work of God and entreat Him to remove from us all that would damage the good witness of our local Church to the world. Let us love one another in the truth of our Risen Christ, Who, through the Cross, has shown us the way.
Christ is risen! Truly He is risen!
Your fervent suppliant unto God,
+ Moses, Metropolitan of Portland
Protocol Number 104P