Wednesday, May 24, 2017

'Having Beheld the Resurrection of Christ'


Dear Parish Faithful,


CHRIST IS RISEN!
INDEED HE IS RISEN!


Pascha - The Thirty-Ninth (and final) Day

'Did not our hearts burn within us...' (LK 24:32)

Today we say farewell to the paschal season as we have reached the thirty-ninth day, with tomorrow's fortieth day being the great feast of the Ascension of Christ. This year, in a series of homilies, I have tried to keep us focused on the Risen Christ and His appearances to His female and male disciples as found recorded in the Four Gospels. 

Below, I have shared a few further passages on the Resurrection beginning with the great Byzantine mystic, St. Symeon the New Theologian, and then followed by some of our most prominent contemporary Orthodox voices. Each witnesses to the same Risen Lord, but each with a particular point of view that reveals the inexhaustible mystery of Christ's victory over death. 

It is now time to celebrate the glorification of Christ at the right hand of the Father in the feast of the Ascension.  We will serve Great Vespers this evening (May 24) at 7:00 p.m. and the Divine Liturgy on Thursday morning, May 25 at 9:30 a.m.

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"That most sacred formula which is daily on our lips does not say, "Having believed in the Resurrection of Christ," but, "Having beheld the Resurrection of Christ, let us worship the holy Lord Jesus, the only Sinless One." How then does the Holy Spirit urge us to say, "Having beheld the Resurrection of Christ," which we have not seen, as though we had seen it, when Christ has risen once for all a thousand years ago, and when even then without anybody's seeing it?  Surely Holy Scripture does not wish us to lie?  

"Far from it! Rather, it urges us to speak the truth, that the resurrection of Christ takes place in each of us who believes, and that not once, but every hour, so to speak, when Christ the Master arises in us, resplendent in array and flashing with the lightnings of incorruption and Deity... 

"Those to whom Christ has given light as He has risen, to them He has appeared spiritually. He has been shown to their spiritual eyes. When this happens to us through the Spirit He raises us up from the dead and gives us life. He grants us to see Him, who is immortal and indestructible. More than that, He grants clearly to know Him who raises us up (EPH. 2:6) and glorifies us (ROM. 8:17) with Himself, as all the divine Scripture testifies."

St. Symeon the New Theologian (+1022) from Discourse Eleven - Of Christ's Resurrection

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"Christ's resurrection was such an indisputable fact for early Christians and there was such a deep meaning associated with this event, that the Apostle Paul could, without hesitation, say to the addressees of his epistles: 'If Christ be not risen, then our preaching is in vain, and your faith also is in vain' (I COR. 15:14).

"The whole apostolic preaching was built on the witness of Christ's resurrection - a witness that was so surprising that the apostles said concerning it: 'We have seen with our eyes', that 'which we have looked upon and our hands have handled' (I JN. 1:1).

"And though not one of the apostles saw the very moment of Christ's Resurrection, they all saw the risen Christ, who repeatedly appeared to them, strengthening them in faith. Even those who did not see the risen Christ with their physical eyes, like the Apostle Paul and all the subsequent generations of Christians, for instance, saw his resurrection with the eyes of the soul, and their confidence in Christ's resurrection was as strong as that of the apostles."

Metropolitan Ilarion Alfeyev from Vol. II of Orthodox Christianity - Doctrine and Teaching of the Orthodox Church
 
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"Christ's resurrection is the greatest event in history. It is a matter of deification and resurrection of the human nature and of a hope for deification and resurrection of our own person.  

"Since the medicine has been found, there is hope of life.  Through Christ's Resurrection both life and death acquire another meaning.  We do not regard as life the whole of the events of history, but communion with God. And we do not regard as death the end of the present life, but the human person's withdrawal from Christ, while separation of the soul and body is not death, but a temporary sleep.  

"The Apostle Paul, precisely because he feels united with the Risen Christ, can confess:  'For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, not things present not things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate me from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord'."

Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos from The Feast of the Lord

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"Dead once for all on the Cross, outside the walls of Jerusalem, and resurrected on the third day after His burial, Christ continues to die and to rise, mystically,  mysteriously, until the end of the age, in each person whose nature He has assumed.  

"Before the scandal and the horror of death - of all the daily deaths such as sickness, hatred, injustice, the destruction of our natural environment, physical and psychic disorders - the Resurrection of Christ traces a path of light. It produces an abundant flow of life in the midst of death, it transforms death into a "passage" (Pascha). 

"The Paschal mystery is an invitation to keep our lamps lit (LK. 12:35). It introduces us to another aeon, which is a new dimension, the anticipation of the world to come, the Kingdom already secretly present among us."

Michael Quenot from The Resurrection and the Icon

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