April 14, 2012
Buenos Aires: Paschal Epistle of Bishop John of Caracas and South America
Beloved brothers and sisters, faithful sons and daughters of Christ's Church, my dear Christians,
Christ is risen!
He is risen; He is not here: behold the place where they laid Him (Mark 16 6). Behold the place, behold the tomb – it is empty! He is risen! Behold the apostles, behold the martyrs, behold the confessors, behold the ascetics - Christ is risen, and with Him He has spiritually raised all Christians who truly believe in Him.
The Resurrection of Christ is the one truth without which there can be no Christianity. In the words of St Paul the Apostle, if Christ be not raised, our faith is in vain... we are of all men most miserable (1 Cor. 15 17-19). This is why, from the very start, the enemy of mankind, along with his servants, both conscious and unconscious, has waged a constant battle against the Resurrection. They blocked the tomb with a stone, they placed seals, they surrounded it with soldiers, and when all this proved to be in vain, and the Resurrection was already an established fact, they fought against it with lies and calumnies, resorting even to bribery. They then persecuted the disciples who bore witness to, and proclaimed the Resurrection, seeking them out, martyring them, putting them to death.
This war against the Resurrection, however, had instead an opposite effect. The stone, the seals, the guard, instead of preventing the Resurrection, served as a confirmation of its reality. The persecutions and martyrdoms, instead of wiping out and silencing those who believed and preached this truth, only multiplied and strengthened them, thus making manifest in them the power of the Resurrection (Phil 3 10).
The Church is the mystical Body of Christ, and therefore it is perfectly natural that there should be parallels between her life and the life of Christ, as we see even in our own days, when, in Russia, her enemies crucified the Church, walled her in, placed a guard on her, did all they could to prevent her resurrection. But again, this all proved to be in vain, and now that her resurrection is self-evident, they deny it and slander it, and under the pretext of a purported legalism (like the Romans), or a purported piety (like the Pharisees), they wage war against her. Nevertheless, regardless of them, regardless of us, the fact remains, that Christ is risen, and that with Him He raises His Church and the souls of those who believe in Him, whether we accept it or not. What is up to us, however, is, are we going to be partakers in this resurrection or are we not.
Christ is risen! Truly He is risen!
Bishop of Caracas and South America