BLESSED ARE THE PEOPLE WHO KNOW THE FESTAL SHOUT!
Christ is Risen! He is truly Risen!
Again and again we hear the joyous cry during these bright days of Christ's Radiant Resurrection - Pascha, the Passover from death to life. He conquered death by His death upon the Cross! No one is dead any more! All are alive in God - the Source of all life.
Happy are we who have the tradition and faith to make this shout! It is a challenge to do it these days when a war (the result of cruelty and hatred which have lasted for centuries) ravages a part of the continent from which most of us hail. It is so frustrating to see the images of destruction on the television and the press. We feel that it ought not to be so! After all the hopes that were awakened by the fall of the Soviet empire! Why, after such a marvelous spring, has the summer of justice and peace not arrived? Why is there still all this suffering, this pain, these cries of despair?
We believe that God is Almighty, so it is to Him that we direct our complaints. Is He listening? Why does He not act to put an end to these horrors? Why, Lord? This is a cry which echoes across the pages of the Psalms. A cry which we have heard recently from the Cross, from the Crucified.
But we have heard another cry from the Cross as well - a cry of triumph: "It is finished!" Everything has been accomplished. Jesus has died. He embraced this enemy that is dancing in Europe and the other trouble spots of the world. And with this embrace He killed it. Or better He transformed it. Before Him we could not find any meaning worthy of the suffering of humanity and all creation. After the Crucifixion we can view all suffering as a part of His suffering, a suffering crowned by the unexpected victory of the Resurrection!
The Psalmist wrote: "Blessed are the people who know the festal shout, who walk, O Lord in the light of Thy countenance, who exult in Thy name all the day, and extol Thy righteousness" (Psalm 88:15-6, Revised Standard Version). What is this festal shout? We have discovered it again today: CHRIST IS RISEN! HE IS TRULY RISEN!
In the Crucifixion and the Resurrection of Jesus we have clearly seen the Face of God! God suffers with us and rises with us! We suffer and rise with Him! At last - justice. Reason for jubilation! The door which opens the way to this is FAITH! Our faith comes from our tradition which has provided vessels for it to reach us. But it comes also from the Holy Spirit sent to us by Jesus from His Father after His Ascension.
Glory to God Who has opened this door for us. If we find ourselves lacking in this faith, let us not hesitate for that reason to join in the festal shout. For here is the reason why the people who know it are blessed: God dwells in this shout! Let us cry out with hope, with humility, with perseverence. Let us obey this thirst which makes us look for goodness, truth and justice. Let us cry all the louder: Christ is Risen! See how the enemies: fear, despair, hatred disappear like the mist before the bright Sun which rises each morning without fail, even if we do not always see it. Christ is truly Risen! The Crucified has triumphed!
V. Rev. Ihor George Kutash