From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
GOAA Easter Message Bartholomew Archbishop of Constantinople
George Conklin <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Mon, 05 Apr 2004 13:13:26 -0700
GREEK ORTHODOX ARCHDIOCESE OF AMERICA
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ON HOLY PASCHA
Protocol No. 247
+B A R T H O L O M E W,
BY THE GRACE OF GOD ARCHBISHOP OF CONSTANTINOPLE,
NEW ROME, AND ECUMENICAL PATRIARCH,
TO THE PLENITUDE OF THE CHURCH,
GRACE, PEACE AND MERCY
FROM CHRIST THE SAVIOUR, RISEN IN GLORY
Brother concelebrants and pious, God-loving children of the Church,
Christ is Risen!
As we greet you, dear beloved, with this Paschal exclamation, we reminisce
about the philanthropic action of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Logos of God,
through Whom everything was created, to offer life to mankind. We also
think of the cruel pursuit of the devil, and of the people who have been
misled by the devil, having become his instruments in trying to deprive
humankind of the great and sacred gift of life.
The sacred gift of life is intended by God to bring joy. The mouth of the
Myrrh bearers was filled with joy as they cried, "Christ is Risen", says
the sacred hymnist. Ever since, thousands of people cry, "Christ is Risen"
and the hearts of innumerable devout Christians fill with joy in repeating
the announcement "Christ is Risen", for all of us value life as one of
God's greatest gifts to humanity. It is a valuable gift through which we
can enjoy all of the other divine gifts, for without the gift of life we
cannot have any awareness of the other gifts God offered to us.
The source of life and joy is Christ, beloved brothers and children, and He
invites us all to become participants of His divine gifts. He does invite
not only us, the Orthodox Christians, but also every single person. Every
human being is invited to partake in the fullness of a joyful life. God
created human beings so that they might live joyfully; He intended for us
to constitute adornments of the material and spiritual universe. He gave
each person the opportunity to enjoy all creation; that would become
possible, of course, if people showed respect for one another, and,
moreover, if they loved God and the other beings. The observance of this
commandment leads to a harmonious society of people, which is surrounded by
the whole creation, in service of humanity, and is based on freedom, which
is the foundation of love. Our feeling of this love, which is based on our
free will, reveals the ineffable beauty of the face of the Lord, the most
desired one, as the holy Church Fathers say, and, also, the face of the
beloved human person. The human face reflects and depicts the divine and
supreme beauty of God's face, for it was created in His image and likeness.
The faithful Christian, and every human being, must himself feel the
opportunity to experience and cherish life, and recognize this right in all
others, as well. Unfortunately, though, the devil hated human life and
turned murderous, and implanted the idea of homicide in the human race. The
devil persuaded Cain in killing his brother and becoming the first
fratricide. Since then, many fellow human beings hate, by imitation of the
devil, the life of others. As a result, throughout the history of
humankind, myriads of human beings have been deprived of the blessings of
life and joy, due to murderous and invidious acts committed by other human
beings. This goes on until today.
But, Christ, was risen to offer us life and abundance of life. Therefore,
it is inconceivable for a Christian or anyone else who loves his own life
and respects God, to want or commit a murder or to cause pain to others.
The killing of people, and moreover the indiscriminate killing of innocent
people, non-participating in war conflicts, is an inhuman, condemnable and
non-heroic act. Likewise, every selfish act that causes pain to some people
in order to satisfy others is also condemnable.
As has always been the case, this year's celebration of the Resurrection of
Christ follows the same predicament; it is clouded by a multitude of grave
incidents. We hear about many group homicides and other hurtful acts
committed by people against people. Christ, Who is the Way and the
Resurrection and Life and Who lived an earthly life of doing good and
healing, shows to all people the way of love and giving, of justice and
respect of life and joy of others, as the single way, which leads humanity
to true joy and fullness of life. Christ resisted His persecution and death
through forgiveness, love, good deeds, sacrifice and resurrection. He
proved that the power of evil, despite its fierce aspiration to kill the
leader of life, failed. And He persuades us that in our days the powers of
evil will be again defeated by the greater power of love, which is the only
way leading to resurrection.
Thus, brothers and children in the Lord, we should not fear in the face of
evil that seems to prevail. At the end, our Risen Lord Jesus Christ will be
the victorious winner along with the people who believe in His
resurrection. But our win will not be against our fellow human beings, but
against evil, for we Christians want all people to partake in this victory
so that none will be defeated by evil or lose the earthly, and most
importantly, the eternal life.
Thus, we greet all of you, beloved, with the Paschal greeting "Christ is
Risen", and pray that you will travel the road of Holy Pascha in the joy of
Resurrection. We pray also that through your pious life you will
contribute to the propagation of the spirit of altruism and will inspire
others to respect the life and the joy of their fellow human beings, so
that good will prevail over evil and the leader of life, our Risen Lord
Jesus Christ, will reign in your hearts. Amen.
Holy Pascha 2004
+ B A R T H O L O M E W
Patriarch of Constantinople
fervent intercessor of all
before Risen Christ
To be read at the Divine Liturgy of the Feast of Holy Pascha, after
the Holy Gospel
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