Sunday, March 27, 2005

Today Western Christians celebrate Easter, the great feast of the Lord's Resurrection which, due to the complexities of competing church calendars, we Orthodox will celebrate on May 1st this year. For the Catholics and Protestants out there, I offer the following excerpt from an Easter homily by the great Serbian preacher (and recently canonized saint) Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich, which harks back to the sermon of Saint John Chrysostom read at each Paschal celebration.

Come then, all you my brethren who fear death. Come closer to Christ the Risen and the Raiser, and He will free you from death and the fear of death.

Come, all of you who live under the shame of your open and secret sins. Draw nearer to the living Fount that washes and cleanses, and that can make the blackest vessel whiter than snow.

Come, all of you who seek health, strength, beauty and joy. Lo, the risen Christ is the rich Source of them all. He awaits you with compassion and yearning, desiring that no-one be lost.
Bow down before Him, in body and soul. Unite yourself with Him with all your mind and thoughts. Embrace Him with all your heart. Do not worship the enslaver, but the Liberator; do not unit yourself to the destroyer but to the Saviour; do not embrace the stranger but your closest Kinsmen and your dearest Friend.

The risen Lord is the Wonder of wonders, but He is, while being the Wonder of wonders, of the same nature as you are - of real human nature, the primal nature that was Adam's in Paradise. True human nature was not created to be enslaved to the irrational nature that surrounds it, but to govern nature by its power. Neither does man's true nature consist in worthlessness, sickness, mortality and sinfulness, but in glory and health, in immortality and sinlessness.

The risen Lord has torn down the curtain that divided true Godhead from true humanity, and has shown us in Himself the greatness and beauty of the one and the other. No man can know the true God except through the risen Lord Jesus; neither can any man know true man except through Him alone.

Christ is Risen, my brethren!

By his Resurrection, Christ conquered sin and death, destroyed Satan's dark kingdom, freed the enslaved human race and broke the seal on the greatest mysteries of God and man. To Him be glory and praise, together with the Father and the Holy Spirit - the Trinity consubstantial and undivided, now and forever, through all time and all eternity. Amen.