PASCHAL EPISTLE of Bishop Andrei
CHRIST IS RISEN!
Beloved in our Lord, Fathers, brothers, and sisters,
I congratulate all of you on the great and joyful day of Pascha!
Christ’s Resurrection has opened the way for mankind to the resurrection and ascent into Heaven. This is what Apostle Paul teaches us: “Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep…For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming” (1 Cor. 15, 20-23).
The Holy Church, in glorifying the Resurrection of Christ in hymns, glorifies it not as a separate historical event, but always combining the Resurrection with its saving fruits for mankind. Such are nearly all the Paschal hymns:
“In the flesh Thou didst fall asleep as a mortal man, O King and Lord. Thou didst rise on the third day, raising Adam from corruption, and destroying death: O Pascha of incorruption, the Salvation of the world!” (Exapostilarion).
On the icon of Christ’s Resurrection, you can see the Lord holding firmly with His strong hand, Adam’s helpless hand, and with a decisive movement leads him out of his tomb. This symbolically depicts that humanity itself was helpless to free itself from the consequences of its fall: sin, damnation, and death.
The Son of God became the leader of our salvation (Heb 2:10). He assumed our nature and in it, conquered the devil by His death on the Cross.
“O unspeakable grace! Christ accomplishes the feat, and I receive honour. He is at war with the devil, and I am the victor,” – exclaims St. John Chrysostom. (Homily on Theophany).
Ungrateful humanity has rejected its Benefactor, and the name Jesus Christ is but rarely remembered occasionally, and even then, sometimes not for glorification, but for ridicule. Those who have rejected the true Saviour will willingly accept another messiah, coming not in the name of the Lord, but in his own name. (John 5:43).
According to the teachings of Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, authorities and governments are established by God to curb people’s sins and passions. (1 Peter 2, 13-14. Rom. 13, 1-4). However, at the present time, these authorities and governments do not carry out this task of curtailing evil in the world. The rulers of states are not serving the people of their countries, for which they gave their allegiance when sworn in to carry out their duties but are serving a hidden agenda. Thus, they themselves have become the main instruments of evil.
The feature of contemporary times is that evil is being implanted in the first instance, by the rulers of states. Moreover, they are doing this knowingly, consistently, methodically, and everywhere. As a consequence, evil is becoming uncontrollable and dominating. Nothing like this has ever happened in the entire history of mankind. While Antichrist is yet to appear, we are witnessing the establishment of his reign on earth: full universal rule of deceptiveness and evil.
Current extraordinary events indicate that the time of Christ’s Second Coming is approaching. Let us recall the directive of our Lord Jesus Christ, addressed to those who will live on earth before His coming that they “always ought to pray and not lose heart” (Luke 18:1).
Let us keep trying to draw near to God with frequent prayers, and He will draw near to us. Let us leave our superfluous earthly cares, which tie down our hearts to the worldly.
Whatever trials await us in the future, the Lord will never leave us who hope in Him: “And shall God not protect His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, and will He delay long over them? I tell you that He will protect them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on earth” (Luke 18:7-8).
Let the bright Paschal joy drive away anxiety and worries from our hearts. Christ’s Pascha testifies that at the end of the path of the cross, there awaits us the resurrection and eternal life.
Christ has Risen!
Melbourne. Pascha 2021