THE TRIUMPH OF LIFE AND THE VERY DEATH OF DEATH
The light still shines from the empty Tomb! We sing and proclaim over and over: "Christ is risen from the dead..." This joyous proclamation contrasts with the terrible news about the on-going conflict in Yugoslavia. The bombs keep on falling and the refugees keep struggling to survive. Human resources are stretched to the breaking-point. And then the ghastly news about the massacre in Denver where two students, Jim and Dylan, killed teachers and fellow-students before turning their weapons on themselves and leaving bombs to destroy their school after their death.
We turn away again from the horror. It is refreshing to recall today the journey of the women in the early dawn to the tomb of their beloved Teacher, Jesus. The names of seven of them are recorded. There are three Mary's, Martha, Joanna, Salome and Susanna. Although part of a humanity which Jesus diagnosed as being an "evil and adulterous generation" (Matthew 16:4), they found the courage and strength to be faithful and true! They risked a lot to offer this final service (as they thought) to their fallen Leader. And they succeeded in spite of all that stood in the way . (The obstacles only made their action nobler and more heroic - even more a testimony to the divine love they were reflecting!) The guards had fled and even the huge rock which shut off the tomb had been rolled away. And then they heard the joyous announcement: "He is not here! He is risen!"
As we turn our attention back to the horror in Kosovo and Denver let us do so in the light of that joyous surprise discovered by the women. It is in this light that the Patriarch of Belgrade, Pavle, and his bishops speak in their Pascal Letter of the Resurrection of Christ, its cosmic implications and relate it to the agony of their land. They cry: "Truly the event of the Resurrection is the triumph of life, and the very end of death." They insist:
Brothers and sisters, our faith in Christ's resurrection and in the coming universal resurrection is not unfounded or a delusion of those who believe. It is, on the contrary, our directly experienced spiritual knowledge to the extent that we are true Orthodox Christians, which is to day, to the extent that we live in the Church and experience her as the Union of God and man, the Assembly of the Saints, the People of God, and not as an ideology or, still less, a religion. Already here and now, through our own incorporation into the Body of the Church in Holy Baptism we can taste the final resurrection through our personal participation in the Cross and Resurrection of Christ (see Romans 6:3-5).
Some one might protest that these words are too "religious" and that it only gives an excuse to not get involved in making the hard choices required by life in a world where such terrors take place. But no, it is not so! If we truly live the Resurrection it is not possible to simply enjoy tranquil repose on the pews of the temple. Resurrection life pushes us to get involved in the fight! But in a different way: not with hatred or violence. Rather, as Patriarch Pavle and the Serbian hierarchs proclaim, it is by "sacrificing ourselves for the world and not sacrificing the world to us".
By our prayers, by our thoughts, by our words, by our war with evil - especially within our own hearts - let us help to unfold the victory of Christ's Cross and His Tomb, which is full of the light of Resurrection, within history, in our world, in our surroundings TODAY!
V. Rev. Ihor Kutash