Saturday, April 14, 2012

Met. Ephrem's Paschal Message

Arabic original can be read here.

The joy of the resurrection because through the cross joy came to all the world.

The Feast of the Annunciation is the feast of the Divine Incarnation, the cornerstone of our salvation. The Feast of Pascha is the totality of salvation, beginning on the cross where Christ was glorified. Christ's body in the tomb was not touched by corruption. The tomb was found empty and Christ appeared to the disciples, to the Myrrhbearers, and to the five hundred. The one who appeared is not an individual, but a person, one of the three hypostases, who emptied Himself through divine condescension. If we have not fasted, how can be be glorified? If we have not suffered, how can we rejoice? If we have not rejoiced, how can we celebrate Pascha?

But, how can I taste the power of the Resurrection amidst all these temptations? How can Christ be with us to the end of the age? With each one of His beloved in any place they are found: in illness, in poverty, in sorrow and depression, and even in sin. I ask myself, what will happen? What will become of the world? Is there a truce? Is there peace? Is the experience of the Resurrection the experience of our repentance and our sense of hope?

"Christ's resurrection is our resurrection from the tomb of sin and death," said St Symeon the New Theologian, and he added, "The mystery of Christ's resurrection is fulfilled first of all in us. There is no knowledge without vision and there is no vision without feeling. Vision comes first, and with vision knowledge and feeling. Someone who  feels things that surpass reason before attaining vision resembles a blind man who raises his cane in front of an enemy but instead strikes a friend, while the enemy ducks in front of him, mocking him."

This is why we do not say in Church, "having believed in the resurrection of Christ," but rather we say, "having seen the resurrection of Christ, let us worship the holy Lord Jesus, who alone is free of sin."

The one who was crucified is the one who arose. Divine light shines upon His face. Does it shine upon our face? Upon the face of this world, crucified in its sins?

Christ is risen! Do we rise with Him? Does the sorrowful created world rise with Him? The answer is:

Yes! From this moment we are risen with the living Christ. From this moment we are victorious over sin, victorious over death. This is the feast. Here is the feeling of joy. Here is the vision: "the feast of feasts and the season of seasons."

Rejoice and be glad. Never despair, whatever may happen. This corrupt world is passing away. Trust that Christ is victorious, and you are victorious with Him. Shout joyfully to God!

Metropolitan of Tripoli, al-Koura, and their dependencies

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