The Easter Message of His Eminence Archbishop Gabriel

Dear brother and sisters,

Christ is Risen!

I am happy to greet you with this joyful acclamation, which, following the ancient tradition, we all exchange on this glorious and beautiful feast of Easter !

Yes ! May the Lord be our joy ! May He fill our hearts and all our being, as we understand that we are no longer enslaved by sin and that the terror of death has been destroyed.

We truly need a resurrection as powerful and filled with signs of hope as the resurrection which was given to the disciples on the third day, in order to correct the mistaken ideas we have concerning suffering and the cross, so that this resurrection should be for us a source of faith. For only in the Resurrection can we understand how the cross of Christ can not only bring us pardon for our sins, but also teach us to endure with joy the suffering of this cross. Then that suffering will no longer be suffering, but communion in glory, in the words of the holy apostle Paul : “Let us suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together” (Rom 8, 17).

Dear brothers and sisters, we all love freedom : we feel within ourselves how important it is in our lives, and now Christ grants us the possibility of living by and through this freedom ! It was for love that He allowed himself to be nailed to the cross and laid in the tomb. We must understand this ! It is much more than a matter of atonement ; it is the fulfillment of the whole economy of Salvation ! This is what the Holy Fathers tell us : the mystery of the Incarnation does not stop at the expiation of the crucifixion and redemption by blood, for Christ was to descend into the depths of hell in order to make free from “the law of sin and death” (Rom, 8, 1) the sons of Adam who sat in “darkness and in the shadow of death” (Luke 1, 79). And so, by His Resurrection, Christ, the New Adam, conqueror of death, makes us new men, he gives us the ability to know and to love God, to live again with God and be saved : “the Word became man that we might become God !” (St. Athanasius the Great).

But, brothers and sisters, we must not be satisfied with a joyful but perhaps short-lived feast, we must live by this mystery of the Resurrection ! We must include in the whole of our being and in all our life, here in this world, that joyful acclamation which we exchange at this time : ”Christ is Risen !” We must think and act accordingly, for the Apostle Paul tells us : “If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain and ye are yet in your sins !” (1 Cor 15, 17)

What then must we do ? Many opportunities are available to us to make our union with God a reality : remember Holy Thursday ! On that day Jesus explained to His apostles all that was to take place in the days that followed, but he did not content himself with a theoretical explanation. He offered them in anticipation a total union with Himself, which already means Salvation, by giving them His precious Body and His precious Blood. During the mystical Supper Christ is at once sacrificed and raised, he is dead and living ! Remember, these are His own words : “This is my Body broken for you, this is my Blood shed for you !”, and it is clear that the Lord could not say this without being sure of what was to happen later ! Here we are not in some sort of mythology, but well and truly in the reality of the Resurrection : every time we approach the sacred Chalice and taste its precious contents, we shed our sin and put on the dazzling beauty of Christ. Such a mystery is only made possible by the great mercy of the Lord and by His ineffable love for men !

This is without doubt the most wonderful of the consequences of the death and Resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Since all the sacraments are linked to that of the Divine Eucharist, when we approach the Holy Chalice and receive communion in the Sacred Gifts, we are beneficiaries of the saving fruits of this beautiful feast through which we live on this holy day ! Then let us not hesitate ! Let us come and draw from the fount of Salvation, let us drink from the cup of divine Love and let us live this new life which we are invited to share ! But it is not enough to be a consumer ; we should not keep the riches of God’s mercy for ourselves alone. Divine Love, which is given to us, is God’s very being. Now, in God, love is shared through a ceaseless movement between the three Divine Persons ! Since we are made divine by the Resurrection, let us be logical and share this love which we have freely received... Admittedly, this is not always easy, but we are on this earth to learn from our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. Therefore let us ask Him : Lord teaches me to love ! Teach me to live as one who has risen from the dead ! Stand me in Thy light with all my brothers and let me sing ceaselessly : “Christ is risen from the dead, by death he has conquered death, and to those in the tomb He has given Life !”

With this acclamation, full of joy and hope, I send all my love.

Cathedral of St. Alexander Nevsky, Easter 2010.

+GABRIEL, Archbishop of Comana
Exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarch

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