‘Having seen the Resurrection of Christ, let us worship the Holy Lord Jesus, Who Alone is without sin’.
We often hear and sing this hymn of rejoicing. But let us ask ourselves: Where have we seen the Resurrection of Christ?
The answer is simple: In ourselves.
The Resurrection of Christ is not some abstract event in history which is celebrated once a year. Our whole Christian life should be spent in a state of resurrection. If we draw near to the Chalice which the Saviour grants us with faith and love, and if we strive to live our lives with that same faith and love which the Saviour also grants us, then the Resurrection of Christ will be revealed to be our own resurrection. Entering our life, it becomes inseparable from our being and is even now accomplished and revealed in us in thought.
We are slain by sin: the Lord has come into our world for the sole purpose of resurrecting us from death together with Himself. For Christ is the source of eternal life, Himself He did not need resurrection. Sin and death were alien to Him, for He never fell into sin and never changed in His glory. ‘Most glorified and higher than any principle, force and power, just as He humbled Himself and died for our sakes, so He also rose from the dead and was glorified for our sakes, so as then to reproduce in us what had taken place in His person, and so to save us’ (St Macarius the Great).
Our so glorious co-resurrection is accomplished when we consciously live His deeds during His life in our world. The Lord left the holy city of Jerusalem and went up onto the Cross, together with Himself nailing to it the sins of the whole world. And it is fitting for us to leave the vain, sinful and passionate world and go down into the depths of our own hearts. This going down is expressed in our services, especially on Great Friday, when the whole Church brings out the Shroud of Christ and performs His Burial. But this testimony of the Church is given to us so that it may spread to every day and hour of the year. When we enter the tomb of repentance and humility in prayer, then Christ Himself, as the same St Macarius says: comes down from heaven, enters us, like the tomb, unites with our souls and resurrects them as they plainly abide in death’.
If we understand and accept this and found our spiritual labour and work of prayer on this, then His Resurrection will act in us: then, and only then, will it become for us a new reality, a new life in a constant co-resurrection with Christ. Christ brings us true life, but not from outside Himself, for He is Himself wholly and truly eternal life. Let us recall His words at the tomb of Lazarus: ‘Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. Martha saith unto Him: I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? Let us too answer together with Martha: ‘Yea, Lord: I believe that Thou art the Christ, the Son of God, Who should come into the world’.
For as long as humanity fails to keep faith with God in its soul, it is in reality still dead, it abides in death. Only when Christ Himself through His ineffable mercy and love for mankind, seeing our striving for Him and love, comes and resurrects the dead soul, does the soul also accept grace together with life. And through grace it is able to see how He is Himself resurrected in it and resurrects it. Thanks to His mercy, our soul, dead, blind and feelingless but practised in abstinence, prayer and fasting, can see Him, immortal and incorrupt, Himself living in us. This becomes possible because, despite our stony-heartedness and stubborn stagnation in sin, our soul is called to communion with God, for which God created it immortal by nature.
Immersed into Christ through baptism, we can slay sin and death in ourselves, making the Resurrection of Christ the firm foundation of our lives and our co-resurrection: ‘Buried with Him in baptism, wherein also you are risen with Him’ (Col 2, 12); ‘For you are dead and your life is hid with Christ in God’ (Col 3, 3); We are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh; for if you live after the flesh, you shall die; but if you through the spirit mortify the deeds of the body, you shall live’ (Romans 8, 12-13); Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth: fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence and covetousness, which is idolatry’ (Col. 3, 5).
We are ourselves responsible for our coming to life and resurrection. The Lord has prepared everything for us: our task is to accord ourselves with His Divine Will which always resurrects Christ: ‘For as many as are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God’ (Romans 8, 14). ‘We are the children of God. And if children, then heirs; heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together’ (Romans 8, 16-17).
When on the radiant Paschal night we hear the ancient but eternally new hymn ‘Having seen the Resurrection of Christ’, let us deepen the spiritual vision in our souls and thank the Lord that He has made us worthy of such an undeserved honour – our personal resurrection together with Him! ‘We sing of His resurrection’, affirming in ourselves the truth of Christ: ‘Having endured the crucifixion, He has destroyed death by death!’
Hoping in the mercy of God towards all of us, I greet you all with the joyful exclamation: Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed!
+ Mark, Archbishop of Berlin, Germany, the British Isles and Ireland.
The Resurrection of the Lord 2016