of Metropolitan Methodios
Tonight, we relive the decisive and ever present miracle of our faith. Presently, we will light our candles from the Paschal light which emanates from the life-giving tomb. It is the light of the Risen Christ… the light which enlightens humanity and conquers the darkness of apathy, of disbelief, of sin, of death.
Listen carefully to the powerful message of the angel which stunned Mary Magdalene, Mary the Mother of James, and Solome. The three journeyed to the Tomb on the morning of the first day after the Sabbath. When they reached the Tomb, they discovered that the great stone was rolled away, and that the body of the Savior was no longer there. An angel dressed in a white robe said to them, “Do not be amazed: you seek Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified. He is Risen, he is not here.” (Mark 16:6)
Ever since that morning, this joyous proclamation spans the centuries, and resounds in the hearts and souls of men and women in every corner of the Earth... The Son of God “is not here… He is Risen!” The Savior made his pilgrim way on earth among us. His journey brought Him to a cross and a tomb and to Hades. He did not remain in the tomb because, as St. Basil teaches us in the Divine Liturgy he authored, “it was not possible for Him, the author of life to be held by death.” He descended into Hades that He might fill all things with Himself and loosed the pangs of death. Rising on the third day, He prepared the way for the Resurrection of all from the dead. (anaphora prayer liturgy of St. Basil)
Tonight, we relive the Resurrection of the Savior which changed the course of human history. Tonight we celebrate Easter together with our brothers and sisters – the martyrs of our time – who refused to deny their faith, and endured insult and injury and, ultimately, death.
We celebrate tonight with Christian brothers and sisters who are victims of homicidal acts of violence throughout the world.
We celebrate tonight with the 21 Coptic Christians beheaded in Libya by Isis. We draw near the life-giving tomb of our Savior to whisper a prayer for the countless innocent brethren devastated by war – – for the men, women, AND FOR THE CHILDREN being crucified and beheaded because they are Christians!
We are horrified that people can kill in God’s name, forgetting what Christ told his disciples “The hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering a service to God.” (John 16:2)
My brothers and sisters,
We celebrate tonight, praying that the Risen Lord may forgive us for our lack of courage, for our indifference in the face of the barbaric slaughter of our Christian brethren in Kenya, and in that part of the world where Christianity flourished until recently – Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Syria and Afghanistan. The few remaining Christians in the Middle East will soon disappear if we continue being Pontius Pilates who wash our hands in the praetorium of indifference.
We come to the Tomb of the Savior to receive Light from the unwaning Light and to share it with the refugees and the displaced families who suffer unspeakable terror and violence.
My brothers and sisters, no matter how intense the darkness that surrounds us, no matter how bleak the world is, no matter how overwhelming the problems we face, the light of the Risen Christ shines in the world. The darkness of inhumanity, brutality, and barbarity is indeed oppressive, but it cannot overcome the light of compassion, sensitivity, and humanity that shines forth in the Risen Christ. The darkness of destruction rages in the world around us, but it cannot overshadow the light of peace which radiates forth from the life-giving tomb.
We believe that Jesus took upon Himself the suffering, the pain, the violence and the death of every human being and that, in His Resurrection, He granted us the sure hope of everlasting life.
We believe that, in the Risen Lord, love has triumphed over hatred, goodness over evil, and life over death!
May we all be enlightened by the radiance of the Resurrection. May we be inspired to build a future of tolerance, of justice, of peace, of truth and of love.
Let us approach “to receive light from the unwaning light and let us glorify Christ who is Risen from the Dead.”
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