ARCHPASTORAL PASCHAL MESSAGE
“And to all in the tombs bestowing life”
Thus we conclude the grand Resurrection Hymn: Christ bestows life to those in the graves. While His body was lying in a sealed tomb after He had been taken down from the Cross, Jesus was not at rest at all. No epitaph: “Rest in peace!” was on His sealed grave stone. While Jesus’ body lay in the tomb, His soul descended into the depths of Hades to take on the devil and do battle. Jesus went there to free the souls trapped there since their own death.
The traditional Resurrection icon clearly depicts Jesus’ victory over death, not the other way around. If we look down the Resurrection icon we will see Christ pulling Adam the first man, from the tomb. Eve is to Christ’s left, her hands held out in supplication also waiting for Jesus. This public surrender to Jesus is all that Adam and Eve needed to do. Christ does the rest, which is why He is pulling Adam from the tomb by the wrist, and not by the hand. Those who predeceased Christ’s crucifixion descended into Hades where they waited the coming of their Messiah. Now they are freed from the underworld. Now they mingle freely with Christ and His angels. Indeed, Hades is still there. But its power to hold people is gone. If we only raise our hands toward the Lord Jesus, He is there to lift us from the grave.
This is the significance of the Resurrection of Christ: He died, but He also rose and to all in the graves He bestows life. Life in all its abundance, life without ending, life without tears and sickness: thrilling, throbbing life.
Whose heart doesn’t feel the pull to such a life with God?
Let the hymn of victory ring out, then! Let the good news be heard! Let every voice be raised to sing with one tongue and one heart: Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and to all in the tombs bestowing life!”
Christ is risen!
With love in the risen Lord,
+ Metropolitan JOSEPH