Most Reverend brethren archpastors, venerable priests, deacons, and beloved brothers and sisters!
CHRIST IS RISEN!
Beloved, I heartily congratulate all of you, on the great and luminous feast of the Holy Pascha!
Today we are spiritually experiencing an event that has the most important significance not only on the scale of world history, but also for the life of each of us. The only begotten Son of God became incarnate and shares our burdens of earthly being, teaches us heavenly truths and, having suffered torments, died on the Cross. For many millennia since the fall of the first people from the Creator, man experienced the tragedy of disunity, but no human effort was able to overcome this abyss of sin. Yet God Himself comes to earth and sacrifices Himself for the salvation of many.
When the myrrh-bearing women and the Saviour’s disciples came to the burial cave and did not find the body of the beloved Master, they first experienced loss and confusion. They did not dare to believe in the reality of the miracle that had happened – what happened seemed so incredible to them. But soon the darkness of doubt cleared, and embarrassment gave way to great joy and great gratitude to God. He is not here: for He is risen, as He said! (Matt. 28: 6) Where until recently their aspirations and hopes were buried, sprouts of warm, sincere faith sprang up and the beauty of sacrificing and the immeasurable depth of Divine love for people revealed. Death – the main and inexorable enemy of man – was finally defeated – it could not keep the Creator and the Source of Life captive!
This is the victory that overcomes the world — our faith (1 John 5: 4), – the Apostle John testifies. What are these unusual words about? They are about the power of the Gospel that surpasses all understanding. This unique power lies in two simple words of Paschal greeting. It is in them – the main content of our faith, a solid foundation of hope and an inexhaustible source of love. Through His glorious Resurrection, Christ opened the door to eternal life for us and granted true spiritual freedom: the freedom that we should be called children of God (1 John 3:1).
Each person is infinitely precious in the eyes of the Lord. Testifying of this, the Saviour walked into the world and transfigured it with works of love and mercy; healed the sick, encouraged the mourners, extended a helping hand to the stumbled. So it is for us, if we want to be truly Christ’s, it is necessary to do the work of Christ, imitating Him in the sacrificial service to our neighbours, because only by works faith was made perfect (James 2: 22). The Lord, Who knows the full depth of human pain, is always with those who are in trouble. And we, by the commandment of the Saviour, are called to see Christ in every neighbour (Matthew 25: 40).
He who lives in the Spirit also has in himself the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance (Gal. 5: 22-23). A vivid image of such an evangelical life was revealed by the great ascetic of the last century, St. John the Wonderworker, Archbishop of Shanghai and San Francisco. With an open and courageous heart, he came to the sick and helped those in need, prayed for the afflicted and sought to console those who mourn. Let the example of his struggle be a useful edification for all of us, especially during this difficult time, when the Lord has visited the nations with a dangerous disease.
Our Church life must be full of responsibility. Participation in the Holy Eucharist is the most important action of a Christian: when we partake of the Divine Body and Blood of the Saviour, we let the Lord into us – in Him our weakness becomes a real power that can transform the world. We only need to let Christ to act. But just like “from contact with the fire either ashes or steel is obtained, depending on what is touched. So too does it happen with a man, and everything depends on what he brings to the divine Fire – in what state he touches God. If he keeps himself like iron, the power of the iron becomes steel. If he lets himself go to the point of the weakness of chaff – he will burn up.” (St. John, Archbishop of Shanghai. God is a Consuming Fire).
May, through the prayers of St. John the Wonderworker, Archbishop of Shanghai, our faith which worketh by love (Gal. 5, 6), be strengthened like steel and become a lamp to the world, so that people, seeing our good works and glorify your Father in heaven (Matt. 5 , 16).
Not in all circumstances we are able to openly testify of the Resurrected Saviour, but our everyday Christianity must always be visible, significant and active. Such a testimony, full of the spirit of love for neighbours and true joy in God, when we experience the reality of the Pascha miracle, sounds louder and more convincing than many beautiful and right words.
May the life-giving light of the Resurrection of Christ shine indefinitely in our hearts, illumine and comfort our near and distant. Congratulating all of you once again, beloved, on the great feast of Pascha, I wish you generous mercies from Saviour, Who has risen from the Tomb. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God the Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
TRULY CHRIST IS RISEN!
Metropolitan of Singapore and South East Asia,
Patriarchal Exarch of South East Asia
Pascha of Christ