Christ is risen from the dead! By death he trampled Death; And to those in the tombs He granted life.
This is the hymn that fills the world with rejoicing today. This is the hymn that proclaims to all that Christ is the Lord. This is the hymn that declares that Good Friday was a beginning and not an end. This is the hymn that turns our darkness into light, our sadness into joy, our fears into hope. This is the hymn that announces that the “corruptible put on incorruption and the mortal put on immortality.” (St. Athanasius – Incarnation of the Word)
We sing about the Resurrection not as something in the past but rather in the present. We meet Christ in the present and it is in the present that he meets us. We do not celebrate an event that happened in the past and has no effect in the present or the future.
The present is the window of our lives. Without it we are not able to look back to that which came before nor to look forward to that which will come. Without the present moment we cannot exist. It is here that we meet the risen Christ.
The present paschal moment is important in the Church. We must continually proclaim that Christ is risen. We must preach it from the rooftops to the sidewalks, from the suburbs to the inner city, from the church to the workplace.
The risen Christ continually opens the window of the present paschal moment for us all. We must take the faith that has been given to us in baptism and share it with others rather than keep it locked in a golden dome. We must take the hope that has been given to us in baptism and share it with others rather than bind it in the mistakes and failures of the past. We must take the love that has been given to us in baptism and share it with others rather than only direct it inward where it will shrivel up and die. This can be done only in the present moment.
The present paschal moment is important in our families. Time is the most important gift we can share with each other. We must not allow the present paschal moment to become the past without having even shared it with those we call wife, husband, mother, father, brother, sister, son and daughter. We must announce to them that Christ is risen – and then live it. This can be done only in the present moment.
The present paschal moment is important in our individual lives. “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” (Gal. 2:20) We are called to share all the gifts that the risen Lord has given us. Unless we share in the present moment, the danger is that we will become spiritual misers. The more we accumulate, the emptier we become. This is especially true in our spiritual lives. Everything that is not shared, that is not lovingly given to others, will leave us as empty shells. We will be as the empty tomb. The risen Christ will not be present.
Because of the resurrection, we are called to journey beyond the safety of our lives. To find Christ, we have to go to the church, to our family, to the streets, to the prisons, to the hospitals, to the nursing homes – perhaps even to our own homes. We will find him with the poor, the desperate, the embittered. The marginal and ordinary people, whom the risen Christ alone makes extraordinary.
As we celebrate Easter, may we as church, family and individuals allow the risen Christ to enter into the present of our lives and continue to fill us with faith, hope and love. Then may we have the courage to share who we are with those we meet on our journey to eternal life. No one can be a stranger in our midst because Christ is risen!
Bestowing my blessing on the clergy, religious and laity of the Archeparchy, I remain
In the name of the Lord!
Metropolitan Archbishop of Pittsburgh