Christ is risen and life reigns!


By the mercy of God Archbishop of Constantinople
New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch:
unto the entire plentitude of the Church
Grace, Peace and Mercy from the Saviour Christ
ho is risen in glory

Death, where is your sting? Hades, where is your victory? Dear brethren and beloved children in the Lord, Today we are celebrating the recapitulation of all in Christ Jesus through His radiant Resurrection. The messages from the empty tomb bring salvation to the world: Resurrection, light, life and joy! The witnesses of the Resurrection through the centuries the Apostles, the Fathers, the Doctors of the Church, and the faithful laity have proclaimed this message throughout the oikoumene. The hymnographers too have glorified this event:

He ascended the Cross who descended from heaven To death came Life Immortal
To those in darkness, the True Light
To the fallen, the Resurrection of all.

The Resurrection is light. This light illuminates and interprets the preceding mysteries of the divine economy: the Manger, the Passion, the Cross, and the Burial. The Resurrection teaches us that God did not become human in order to suffer, "but in order to save humanity through His sufferings". Therefore, the one "who knows the mystery of the Cross and Burial also knows the meaning of the previous events", namely the cause and the purpose of the Incarnation of the Word. The one "who has been initiated into the ineffable power of the Resurrection also knows the reason for which God established everything formerly". In other words, all these things, in their orderly succession, reveal the purpose of God's wonders and His compassionate love. These mysteries revealed to everyone that "God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son so that those who believe in Him might be saved and have eternal life" (John 3:16).

The life of humanity lay in a tomb without hope. Moreover, it is through this lack of hope "that sin entered the world, and through sin, death" (Romans 5:12). Nevertheless, the Lord that loves humankind descended to the lowest places of the earth. He entered voluntarily into the very centre of death, and there "the gospel was proclaimed even to the dead" (1 Peter 4:6), "saying to those in bondage: Œcome forth,‚ and to those in darkness: Œshine forth".

Rightly then, boldly and confidently we cry out with our Father among the saints, John Chrysostom: "Death, where is your sting? Hades where is your victory? Christ is risen and life reigns".

Life reigns and grows everywhere like flowers in spring, becoming again the sovereign reality and beauty in all things; the fullness of life; the treasure of life; the grace and richness of life, joy, peace and light! We Orthodox Christians receive, celebrate, and experience the Resurrection of Christ in this manner.

For this most grievous wound, Hades was embittered. Thus it was embittered and abolished, thus mocked, thus put to death, and thus shackled. Indeed, brethren and beloved children in the Lord: Hades was embittered. It was embittered!

For the Resurrection signifies victory over death. It, therefore, signifies life, the assurance of life in God, of life eternal. He who respects the Risen Christ also respects the gift of the Resurrection, whose gift is life. This respect is for life itself; the life of our fellow human beings; the life of our opponent; the life of our enemy; the life of the environment. It is to respect life and to endure its tribulations, contemplating everything in the light of the sweetness of the Resurrection.

However, since sin has greatly abounded, darkening minds and hearts, the hour has again come when we Orthodox Christians who firmly believe in the Resurrection again must become witnesses to Christ's Resurrection (Acts 1:22).

We believe, recognize, and confess the Risen Christ as being the Giver of life. His Resurrection is life-bearing. The Risen Lord is the bread of life. The Resurrection is the fountain of living water, which ever flows and richly bestows the gift of grace.

He who is "exceedingly beautiful" rises from the grave and lovingly receives those who in faith are encompassed by the saving light of His beauty. The Resurrection, therefore, is the sure expectation of us all.

Brethren and shining children of the Church: "Let us cleanse our senses and let us behold, by the transcendent light of the Resurrection, Christ who flashes forth" life and hope. In addition, may each of us cry out from the depth of our heart:

Let my life rise up from corruption to you my God! Christ is Risen! To Him be the glory to the ages. Amen.

Holy Pascha, 1999
Your fervent supplicant before God
+Bartholomew of Constantinople
Protocol No. 292

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