It is the day of Resurrection,
O people, let us be enlightened by it!
The passoveris the Lord’s Passover,
since Christ, our God,
has brought us from death to life
and from earth to heaven.
Therefore, we sing the hymn of victory.
The Canon of Paschal Matins
Venerable Brothers and Sisters,
Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ!
Christ is risen! This magnificent and joyful news spreads throughout the universe and always remains valid, for Easter magnifies the eternal triumph of life over death. Christ is risen! All the power and wisdom of the Gospel are within these words. Eternal God assumed human flesh in Jesus Christ, as well as human weakness, and human death, and as God has defeated death with death.
The word “Pascha” (Passover, Easter) comes from the Hebrew pesach, meaning “to go through, to jump over something,to leave untouched, pass over.”The Lord, faithful to his promise to Abraham and his descendants, wanted to deliver the people of Israel out of Egyptian slavery and settle them in the Promised Land. To do this, He gave every Israeli family a special command: to slaughter a lamb (Exodus 12:5), anoint their door-posts with its blood and eat it that very night. When the Angel of Death came at night to take all the Egyptian first-borns, he “passed by”(left untouched) the houses, whose door-posts were marked with the blood of the innocent lamb. Why did the Lord chose such a mark – the blood of an innocent lamb? God was preparing his people to understand that innocent blood washes away evil, injustice, violence and death which were introduced into the world through sin. In this lies the whole drama of humanity.
The Crucifixion of Christ took place during the feast of the Passover. Jesus – the true Messiah, came to his people as the sacrificial Lamb that “takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29). All the wickedness of mankind, all the burden of its sins dig into Christ’s Body along with the nails. However, it is in His body that death receives its ultimate defeat.
Jesus’ Resurrection from the dead – isn’t only a victory over death, but is also the beginning of a new sacramental reality,unimaginable to humanity. Jesus’ Resurrection renews all creation, especially mankind, as the Apostle Paul testifies:“Anyone who is joined to Christ is a new being; the old is gone, the new has come” (2 Cor. 5:17). And thus we all, here at this time, are taking part in a new reality, working together as ambassadors of the Kingdom of Christ, receiving a foretaste of when “God will rule completely over all” (1 Cor. 15:28).
The Resurrection of Christ is the centre of our faith, the core of our Christian identity. However, this is not an ordinary historical event that happened in the past and is only of referential value. The history of our salvation takes place here and now, as God manifests his power in our lives. We need to look for images of the transition from death to life here and now. And if we look more closely, we shall see God’s action in our lives.
This year, for us Ukrainians, Easter is full of many feelings and emotions. As a nation we are experiencing a kind of “Pesach/Passover”– transition of our own, a transition from fear to a sense of dignity. As we throw off the “old person” in us, God will deliver us with a firm hand from the house of slavery, corruption, systematic lying, resentful social injustice. This is a processof cleansing,growth and development, so it can not happen instantly;it is a pilgrimage, and we are still on our journey. This shift, as with every change and growth, is painful because it is sacrificial.
This is witnessed by the pioneers of our Passover: the heroes, the Heavenly Hundred martyrs – those who, having cast doubt and fear to one side, unarmed, with plywood shields in hand, ran to protect our dignity and freedom, fulfilling Christ’s words: “The greatest love a person can have for his friends is to give his life for them“(John 15:13). Their death for us is often misunderstood, indeed it is disturbing. Why were innocent people killed? In the light of Christ’s Resurrection and Victory we see their sacrifice differently: it is transformed through the Love of God. This is a victorious sacrifice. Christ had already conquered, and in Him the Heavenly Hundred warriors have conquered and found eternal peace and rest.
How should our lives change after Christ’s Resurrection,after our national Easter Passover, which continues? Everyday life is full of worries and little joys. What should our actions be,now that we have believed and witnessed the Resurrection? The Paschal moment of triumph must become our new way of life.By realizing that Christ had conquered death and sin, we are able to deal with all problems, no matter how difficult they may be – even if the enemy is much stronger than us, and the threat is powerful, and the danger is great. Do not be afraid!
We are in God. He is the vine, we are the branches, and in him we bring abundant fruit. A deep understanding and a genuine experience of this good news makes our way of life triumphant, our spirit peaceful, and each step joyful. As we sing in the Paschal Matins: “When those bound by chains in the realm of Death saw Your boundless mercy, O Christ, they hastened to the light with joy, praising the eternal Paschа”.
We have experienced God’s mercy and love that crushed death and sin. Christ’s Resurrection gives us peace and joy. We have no right to keep them forourselves. Let us share the joy of Easter! Let us share the peace! Let us share the contents of our Easter basket! Let us share the most valuable – joy, hope, peace and faith! We had a vision of the Resurrection, but here and now we have reality. The joy and light of Christ’s Resurrection and victory is with us yesterday, today, and forever. “Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:57).
Christ is risen! Indeed He is risen!
Given in Munich, London, Rome, Paris,
this 12th day of April, 2014 – Lazarus Saturday
+ PETRO (Kryk)
Apostolic Exarch for Ukrainians in Germany and Scandinavia
+ HLIB (Lonchyna)
Bishop of the Eparchy of the Holy Family in London
Apostolic Visitor for Ukrainiansin Ireland
+ DIONYSIUS (Lachovich)
Apostolic Visitor for Ukrainians in Italy and Spain
+ BORYS (Gudziak)
Bishop of the Eparchy of St. Volodymyr in Paris
Apostolic Delegate in Switzerland and Benelux