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Holy and Great Pascha, 2014

Dearly Beloved in the Risen Lord,

Χριστός Ἀνέστη! Christ is Risen!

As we gather in the middle of the night to proclaim the Lord’s Rising, we hear from the Evangelist Mark of the amazing announcement of the angel to the Myrrh-bearing women that the Lord had risen. We hear as well that, instructed to inform the disciples, the women ran from the tomb, “and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid” (Mark 16:1-8). This seems to be an odd place to end the reading as we do on Pascha: with the silence and fear of the women.

In fact, the congregation, upon hearing this Gospel passage, breaks out into song, the triumphant hymn of the Resurrection: Christ is risen! The joyful burst of song by the Church is a marked contrast to the end of the reading. Of course, the women in the Holy Gospel become the first Evangelists, delivering the Good News to the disciples as they were instructed. Their silence and fear actually is meant to underscore their immediate obedience to the angel’s instruction: they did not delay. Yet gathered in the middle of the night, our congregations also do not delay to proclaim the Risen Christ Jesus, trampling down death by death.

Therefore, let us always sing the triumphant song as loudly as we do on Pascha, for the world stands in need of hearing this Good News, this Gospel in miniature which this hymn is. Let us sing in the darkness to spite the forces of darkness that have renewed violent persecution of our Christian sisters and brothers throughout the world, especially in Syria and Africa. Let us sing loudly so that our neighbors in our own cities and towns of this “free society” will know we have no fear to proclaim the truth, even in these days of subtle, painless persecution through the slow erosion of religious freedoms or “political correctness.” Let us boldly stand together and proclaim this joyful wonder of the Resurrection, knowing that “through the Cross joy has come to the whole world!” Let us never stop praising the Resurrection of Christ, let us never stop rejoicing with song and greeting everyone with the beautiful proclamation of the Gospel:

Christ is Risen from the dead!

With Paternal Blessings this Pascha,

Metropolitan IAKOVOS of Chicago