PASCHAL MESSAGE OF ARCHBISHOP BENJAMIN
“Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him.” (Mark 16:6)
HOLY PASCHA 2017
To the Reverend Clergy and Faithful of the Diocese of the West
Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!
These words, so full of joy and hope, ring out as we celebrate once again the Mystery of the Passion and the Resurrection of our Lord, God and Savior, Jesus Christ. Annually, we face the long and arduous journey of Great Lent, struggling with our sins and passions, fasting to gain control over such things, repenting of those sins and trying to be mindful of the things of God instead of the usual, mundane trifles of our daily lives. Then we “seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified.”
As with all the celebrations of the Church, we do not gather to simply remember events. We gather to mystically enter into those events. So before we experience the full joy of the Resurrection, we enter into Jerusalem with Jesus, spreading the garments of our souls before Him as He receives the shouts of “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” We then travel back and forth to Bethany with Him as He slowly but surely moves towards the Passion. We hear the condemnations of the Pharisees. We hear the parables of the Kingdom. We close the door to the upper room and witness the First (and Last) Supper, marveling that He chooses to feed us with Himself. We hear the various Gospel narratives of Gethsemane, the arrest, the trial, and finally the execution order. We stand at the foot of the Cross with John and the women. We help Joseph and Nicodemus carefully bury the Body of the Lord. And we descend into Sheol with Him as He shatters the gates of hell itself in that “active repose” of the Blessed Sabbath. Finally, we come to the empty tomb to witness the Resurrection of the Lord. We enter into it all.