Thursday, April 19, 2012

Met. Ephrem's Easter Sermon, 2012

Arabic original here, given at the Church of St. George, Zahriyeh.

Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death and upon those in the tombs bestowing life.

Beloved, on this great day that returns to us every year, in the hope that it will return to us every day and every moment, what must we do and what must we be, we Christians who bear the name of the risen Christ, in order for this resurrection, the resurrection of Christ within us, to remain continually? Is it merely a celebration at a given time, once a year? Is it an external celebration that we once again enjoy with tasty foods and drinks? This is blessed by God, but we must read the Gospel, ponder it, and imitate it-- imitate Christ first of all and second His disciples. We are also disciples of Christ, since we have been baptized in His name and have clothed ourselves in Him.

The Gospel that you heard at matins-- the service of the procession-- talks about those women who came very early-- as you also have come very early-- to anoint Jesus. On their way, they wondered, "who will move the stone for us?" because it was very large. This stone is applicable to our hearts. Who can move this stone? What stone? It is the stone of this laziness, this weakness in faith-- the faith of Christians today-- and the stone of these hardships, the stone of this widespread evil. Who will move this stone for us? Who will take this fear out of our heart, this anxiety? This is the great question that they were asking each other, just as we ask ourselves very often today.

They came and saw that the stone had been miraculously moved aside! How was this stone moved aside? The angel of the Lord came down from heaven--  power from heaven and not from humans came to remove this stone from us. Thinking and intellect are not enough. Faith in God perfects all things and even more. What was in the heart of these women? Who is the one who gave them this courage, while the disciples had fled scared? The myrrh-bearing women came very early because their heart was filled with the love of God that we lack. It was filled with their faith and their longing, which compelled God's power to come down and remove this stone.

And so what next? The angel got up and said to them, "Go and tell the good news to the disciples." This is why, beloved, one who has this love, one who still has this longing for the Lord and not for this passing world or for worldly politics, one who has this divine love, this kind of longing in the heart, is able today-- just like the women-- to go and spread the good news of the Resurrection, to give hope to this despairing world and to say to all, "Christ is risen! Indeed He is risen!"

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