Beloved Brothers and Sisters in the Lord,

Christ is Risen! Χριστός Ανέστη!

This short phrase – just three words in English, and two in Greek – changed the world. It started as a spark but soon grew into a bright torch, as the news spread from a small group of His followers, shared from person to person, and then from country to country, to all corners of the world. As the risen Jesus told the disciples when he appeared unto them “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation” (Mark 16:15).

The message, “Christ is Risen!” transforms us individually when we allow this great mystery to permeate our minds and our hearts. It is a message of hope and victory over darkness. As a message of light, it is brighter than the sun. And it is a message that the world needs more than ever. The past year has demonstrated the fear of darkness, from illness and death of the pandemic to the social unrest we have witnessed. But the Resurrection points us toward the light. Christ emerged from a guarded and sealed tomb. We do not have to live in darkness.

At the Resurrection service, your priest emerged from the darkness of the sanctuary with the Paschal candle ablaze and proclaimed, “Come receive the light, from the unwaning light.” Jesus Christ is the light that cannot be extinguished. It is a light that can only be and must be shared.

As you heard hymns in the Paschal matins, I hope you noticed how often the words for new – καινὸς or νεὸς are used. The Resurrection of Christ makes all things new. The prophet Isaiah wrote, “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind.” (Isaiah 65:17). We too become new. As Saint Paul wrote, “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17). The Resurrection of Christ points to a new way of being for the world and for each and every one of us.

My beloved brothers and sisters in the Lord, because they have been filled with the new light of the Resurrection, over the centuries, Christians have dared to become agents of hope and reconciliation in the world, serving the needs of their neighbors and overcoming all forms of division and hatred. Our confidence in the resurrection and the promise of new creation is what motivates to work to overturn the darkness in the world. The resurrection requires us to forgive one another. As we sing in the Doxastikon of Pascha, “Let us forgive all things in the Resurrection.” The same hymn calls us to embrace one another, even those who hate us. When we allow the light of Christ’s Resurrection to enter into our hearts, that light will fill all aspects of our lives, and all manner of division and enmity can be overcome.

The Resurrection of Christ made evident to the world that darkness, hate, and death would not have the final say. God’s love was and is ultimately triumphant, granting each one of us eternal life and mercy.

May your Paschal celebration be joyous and may the Risen Christ shine in your hearts.

Χριστὸς Ἀνέστη! Christ is Risen!