by the mercy of God, Metropolitan of the Holy Metropolis of Chicago
Pascha, the year of salvation 2019
To the Sacred Clergy, the Monastic Brotherhoods and Sisterhoods,
and the blessed laity of the Holy Metropolis of Chicago.
Beloved fathers and brethren,
Beloved children in the risen Christ,
The greatest event of the Orthodox Church is the Resurrection of Christ and the victory over death, which is the cornerstone of our faith. For this reason, Paul, the Apostle to the Nations, correctly states: “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain” (1 Cor. 15:14).
All the faithful who go to Church on the night of Pascha believe in the Resurrection of Christ. But there are very few who see this event clearly. This should disturb us, for those who do not perceive the Resurrection cannot worship Jesus Christ as the only sinless One and as true God. This is a truth we will pronounce every day during this joyful Paschal season as we recite the Resurrectional hymn: “Having beheld the Resurrection of Christ, let us worship the holy Lord Jesus, the only sinless One.” The vision of the Resurrection is a necessary prerequisite for worshipping Christ.
Now, someone will naturally ask, how can we see the Resurrection of Christ today when it is a historical event that happened 2,000 years ago? Our Church, however, clearly calls us to see the Resurrection of Christ, not merely as a particular event in human history or as a single event that occurred in the past, but rather, as a continuous experience in our life. Christ the Master rises within us, shining and bearing the light of incorruption and joy. The experience within us of the Resurrection of Christ is a divine and sacred mystery, and it reveals the power of our faith, which, according to St. Symeon the New Theologian, unbelievers, skeptics, and doubters cannot see.
This sacred Father of our Church continues to explain that unbelievers, doubters, and skeptics are those who do not reveal their faith through works—that is to say, with acts of love. Acts of love must be connected to our faith in Christ. Otherwise, our faith mirrors that of demons, who confess Christ as Lord and God without any works of charity. Therefore, a faith without works is of no profit. For “faith without works is dead” (James 2:26), just as works without faith has no spiritual benefit. Therefore, having seen the Resurrection, which essentially means that we have experienced and continue to experience more deeply and essentially the Resurrection through acts of love, we can worship Jesus Christ, the only sinless One.
Beloved clergy and faithful of the Holy Metropolis of Chicago,
I invite us to see the Resurrection of Christ as it began at Golgotha. Upon the Cross we see the liberating love of Christ, which does not crucify, but is crucified and sacrificed for the sake of friends. All people are His friends. Love is a gift of the Church; it is Her greatest gift. All of us who see the Resurrection of Christ freely accept the paradox of Christian love and the supreme power of resurrectional love. Such love manifests itself when it embraces the grief and the sorrow of both friends and enemies. The supreme power of Christian love began with the Cross and cannot exist without a Cross, that is, it cannot exist without sacrifice, participation, and works of charity.
To see the Resurrection of Christ means to live this life-giving event through works of love. When our works are the result of sacrificial love, then we will be able to sincerely say: “Having beheld the Resurrection of Christ, let us worship the holy Lord Jesus, the only sinless One.”
Christ is Risen!
Many years, filled with light, joy, and Resurrection.
With paternal blessings and love in the Resurrection,
+ Metropolitan Nathanael of Chicago