“I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in Me,
though he were dead, yet shall he live”. (John 11:25)
Dearest Beloved Fathers, Brothers, and Sisters,
This year my message is different, as my 38th Pascha with you is also not the same! The Glorious Resurrection of Christ has been marvellously exalted in beautiful words and hymns by the blessed Fathers of our Holy Orthodox Church, bringing us the Good news of hope in life and salvation. Together with them, we sing and say: “O Christ, our God, indeed, You are the life and the resurrection of humanity!”
I truly believe that if we take these words, and the ideas they represent, into our conscience, they can change our lives. Words have the power to change lives because words convey ideas, and ideas are vigorous.
These days, we often hear on TV: “Stay home! Save lives!” In the Book of Isaiah, we also read: “Hear, and your soul shall live” (55:3)
What do we mean by soul? We mean the eternal and everlasting part of you, the essence of you. It is a deeper word than personality. It means you, in your fundamental greatness. Thus, the soul must live and grow. How is this accomplished? By hearing. Hearing what? The message of life and growth. How do you hear it? Through the ear, of course, for it is the mechanism of hearing.
But here lies the difficulty. We have a tendency to hear with the outer ear only. The idea bounces off, leaving a little residue perhaps, but not changing our life. We must learn to hear with the inner ear, in the deep subconscious. When you hear with the inner ear, then the truth you heard flows deeply into that area of you that has a living experience of truth. Then, wonderful things happen.
The holy Gospel offers great riches; yet maybe some of you, like me, have been going to church regularly for years without noticing anything resembling great enrichment. You never experienced any meaningful change. Why? Ask yourself honestly: have you ever really exposed yourself to the holy Gospel, really let it get inside of you, permeating deep into your nature? For the holy Gospel is the greatest power in the world. It can awaken powers in us that we did not even know existed. The trouble with us is that we keep it at bay, we let it touch the surface, but we don’t really let it in. “Hear, and your soul shall live”
No matter how lifeless we feel, my beloved friends in the risen Lord, how defeated we appear to ourselves and others, “as prisoners of hope at our homes,” there is life in us. Embrace the holy Gospel as your daily reading, and this life will awaken. What happens is something we see clearly exemplified in the natural world at springtime: the wonderful power for renewal of life, abundant and beautiful.
Our Lord Jesus Christ revealed many times during His earthly life the purpose of His sufferings and resurrection, but even the apostles were not able to comprehend it. After the crucifixion of Christ, they locked themselves in despair in the Upper room and were not willing to believe the good news of the Savior's resurrection conveyed to them by the myrrh-bearing women. However, after meeting with the Risen Christ, their sadness turned into joy of unity with the Lord. The pain of the Lord's crucifixion and death was transformed into jubilation for the Savior's triumph, the dark night of sorrow was turned to dawn of universe-restoring resurrection. And the teaching of Christianity triumphantly spread throughout the world, directing the life of mankind toward salvation and eternity for over 21 centuries.
The joyous news of the Resurrection of Christ brings extraordinary hope and comfort even in our troubled times, when humanity is afflicted and suffering, facing deprivation and losses, undergoing shared distress and crisis. This year, countless faithful all over the world are spending the season of the life-giving Pascha in isolation, many of them far from their loved ones and friends. In these current difficult conditions of the pandemic, we still hold sacred services of worship in our churches, but without the physical presence of the believers. Nevertheless, beloved ones, rest assured that you are with us in spirit, mind, and prayers, and we are celebrating this marvellous feast together.
The Resurrection of Christ is the restoration of human existence and the gift of eternity for all of us. “I am come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).
With God’s mercy, we, and the world, will withstand this trial. However, it is of vital importance that we become stronger while overcoming it, united and spiritually strengthened, always having God as our guide and support. “This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith”, says the Apostle (1 John 5:4). Yes, beloved ones, with the faith in the Resurrection, and with the awareness of the Savior's presence in our lives, we will be able to resolve the problems our beloved clergy and faithful from the Diocese face and build the bright future we all dream of.
We offer our prayers to the Lord our Savior—May He grant the radiant graces of His Resurrection to all our Diocesan churches, monasteries, missions and schools in the USA, Canada, Australia, Europe and to all Orthodox Christians around the world; May He free us from tribulations, and grant us peace and heavenly blessings.
May the good news of Christ's Resurrection and victory of life be everresounding in our hearts and souls. Amen.
Christos voskrese! Christ is Risen!
With love in the Risen Lord,
(Signed) + Metropolitan JOSEPH
Holy Pascha - 2020