Pastoral Message for the Feast of the Resurrection – April 8, 2007

Christ is Risen! Indeed, He is Risen!

Beloved bishops, clergy, monastics and laity,

Pascha has arrived. You and I are called to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The long deadening winter of the Great Fast is overwhelmed by the life-giving springtime of the feast of Easter. The willows of last Sunday – the first sign of spring – proclaim that new life is at hand.

We have traveled through the ocean of the Great Fast supported by silence, forgiveness and community. Today, we enter into the Paschal celebration – the safe harbor of the resurrection of Jesus the Christ – to which everyone is invited. Whether we fasted, prayed or gave alms or not, we are all invited to the celebration. No one is excluded. St. John Chrysostom reminds us: “If you began in the first … third … sixth … eleventh hour, do not hesitate since the Lord accepts the last along with the first.”

There are no excuses to fail to participate in the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Whatever is holding us back has lost its grasp. Whatever makes us hesitant has lost its power. Whatever confuses and restrains us is now clarified and unchained. Whoever has diverted our attention is also invited. The celebration has begun; nothing and no one can exclude us.

It is no longer a time to be silent but to sing out with all of creation that Christ is risen. “Let the heavens properly rejoice, and let the earth be glad and let the whole visible and invisible world celebrate: for Christ, our everlasting joy is risen.”

It is no longer a time to be bent over by the burden of the lack of forgiveness but to announce to all – good and bad, old and young, clergy and laity, healthy and sick – that Christ is risen. “This is the day of resurrection. Let us be enlightened by this feast, and let us embrace one another. Let us call brothers and sisters, even those who hate us, and in the Resurrection forgive everything.”

It is no longer a time to stand alone but to walk joyfully in community proclaiming that Christ is risen. The proclamation is to all: rich and poor, vigilant and careless, fasters and those who did not. Everyone is invited. St. John Chrysostom again reminds us: “The table is overflowing, the feast is sumptuously prepared, the food is abundant, let no one go away hungry. Enjoy the feast of faith, receive the riches of loving kindness … the universal kingdom has been revealed and forgiveness has shone forth from the tomb.”

Let us complete our journey together, reconciled in community – Church, archeparchy, parish, monastery and family – singing with joy: Christ is risen from the dead! By death he trampled death; and to those in the tombs, he granted life!

Bestowing my Episcopal blessing on all of you during this Paschal Season, I remain

In the name of the Lord!

Metropolitan Archbishop of Pittsburgh