by Fr. Patrick Powalinsky, Parish Priest Kamsack, Swan River, Hyas Parish District
"This is the day of Resurrection, let us be radiant in the feast. Let us love one another and call "brothers and sisters" even those who hate us. Let us forgive all by the resurrection. And let us cry aloud, "Christ is Risen from the dead, trampling down death by His own death and granting life to those in the tombs."
We sing this hymn during the Resurrection Service at midnight on Saturday, as we enter into the joy of Pascha. The hymn summarizes the "spirit" of this Feast of Feasts, and explains what our Lenten Journey has been all about. Hopefully we have tried to fast, pray, repent, change our lifestyles and turn back to God in a vigilant way over these past 40 plus days. All this effort had one central goal — to help us prepare for celebrating our Lord's Resurrection from the dead, and opening up our hearts and souls to understand and live according to the new worldview that this holy feast presents!
JOY is the first essential part of this feast. We rejoice in Christ's victory over evil and death. His crucifixion and entombment were not the end of the story. He humbly accepted the worst that the world could do to Him, and then transformed this evil into victory. Sadness is turned to joy. Evil is overcome by good. Death is trampled down and the gates of Paradise are opened up for all humanity!
Once said, never let anything so fill you with sorrow that you forget the joy of our Risen Lord! May we learn to carry this resurrectional joy with us each and every day of the year!
Pascha also reflects the deep and passionate LOVE that our Lord has for us. He willingly endured betrayal, rejection, spitting, beatings, ridicule, torture, whippings, and crucifixion all for one reason — because of His divine and unfathomable love for humankind. Through His suffering He took upon Himself the sins of the world, and then offered back to the world a new way of life!
When we understand and accept this passionate love of Christ, though, it compels us to live differently. We are called to love the world around us, including our enemies and those who have hurt us. As the hymn above reminds us, "Let us call "brothers and sisters" even those who hate us! Let us forgive all by the resurrection!" Loving and forgiving those who have hurt us is central to our celebration of Pascha!
Ultimately, Pascha is about facing the greatest evil and fear that confronts humankind - death itself. Death is the supreme mystery which we all will face one day. Yet with the events of Pascha, we no longer need to face it with fear or uncertainty!
Christ is Risen, and death is vanquished! Christ is Risen and evil is overcome! Christ is Risen and fear is dispelled! Christ is Risen and life is liberated! Christ is Risen and the gates of paradise are opened wide! Christ is Risen and we all can rejoice that the tomb is no longer the end for us!
With the assurance of the Risen Lord, we can boldly proclaim with St. Paul, "O Death where is your string? O Hell, where is your victory?"
Through Christ's Resurrection all of life takes on a new light! May we live within that divine light each and every day of our lives!
Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen!