MUNICH: April 9, 2010
Paschal Epistle of Archbishop Mark of Berlin and Germany
Christ is Risen!
In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness;
and the darkness comprehended it not. (John 1:4-5).
Dear brothers and sisters! Ever since mankind drove it out through sin, genuine life in our world reappeared again only with Christ. Before the advent of the Lord Christ in our earthly world, there was no life, no light, only darkness and the pall of death. Holy Evangelist John the Theologian calls Christ the “Word of Life” (1 John 1:1), Who “cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world” (John 6:33), “that they might have life” (John 10:10). “I am the resurrection, and the life,” said Christ (John 11:25), before He raised His friend Lazarus, dead for four days and already malodorous.
The now-resurrected Christ through His glorious Resurrection raised us also from the dead, we who have died through sin, and scattered the darkness of hell with His Divine Light: Now all things are filled with light: heaven and earth, and the nether region... The Church calls the light of the Resurrection unapproachable, but it is unapproachable only temporarily, only for mankind which has not yet abandoned earthly idolatry, earthly logic, earthly limitations, earthly proclivity for sin.
It is worth pondering now that after completing the course of Great Lent, purifying ourselves from the death of the sins we have committed we have in this way became one of the Lord’s, we became of Christ. The Word of Life gives us mortals the opportunity to participate in His heavenly Logic already here on earth, to participate in His eternal Life, thereby rejecting all that is illogical, meaningless, ignorant, mute, that is, to reject the devil, sin and death. While existing in limited time and space, we, living by Him and in Him, having Him within us, so as to have life, prepare to move to another reality, to eternal existence. From the realm of created darkness to the realm of uncreated, eternal light. This light cannot be consumed by any darkness. And so our souls, purified through repentance, become unapproachable for the darkness of sin. Eternity is open to us by the Resurrection of Christ, and we are free to enter it, by willingly rejecting the evil of sin, sinful death, and with love for good and for light, to Christ the Life-Giver.
Experiencing this Pascha today, we understand, of course, that it is brief in time, and will pass, as will this temporal life. The deeper we immerse ourselves in the cares of daily life after this holiday, the more difficult will it be to preserve the sense of eternal Pascha.
Holy Scripture warns us against the danger of faltering in our podvig [spiritual labors—transl.]: “And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven” (Revelations 11:13). These seven thousand who perished, in the words of the Holy Fathers, represent those who are bound to the temporal life, measured by the seven days, who do not await the eight day of the resurrection.
In fact, we are called upon throughout our entire lives to prepare for this very eighth day, the future age, eternal Pascha. This future age is called a “day,” because there will no longer ever be night. For “there should be time no longer,” as the Angel told John the Theologian (Revelations 10:6), and forever shall the eternal light of the Giver of Light and Giver of Life Christ shine forth, not only for an instant, as for the Apostles on Mount Thabor.
Regarding that Pascha which is performed every day, St Theodore the Studite says that it "is the cleansing of sins, meekness and humility of heart, purity of conscience, the alienation of passions of the flesh, impurity, passions, evil lust and all other transgressions.” So as we celebrate Pascha daily through the mortification of passions and the resurrection of good works, we hope for the gift of grace which will grant the One Who suffered for us, the Resurrected Lord—the unsetting Sun, eternal Pascha in the heavens.
Truly Christ is Risen!
Munich-Berlin, Pascha 2010