O Jerusalem, be exultant, dance and leap for joy, for you have witnessed Christ the King coming forth as a Bridegroom from the sepulcher
(Stichera of Pascha)
It is magnificent to participate in the Church services on Pascha night, to be part of the joyful festival of light that the Resurrection of Christ brings on earth. The only sad part is that we start with many and end up with a few. Many people come, they receive the light, listen to the Gospel and hasten to go home thinking they have fulfilled their duty as Christians. But just witnessing the Resurrection is not enough, and is not the goal, what comes after is equally important. The miracle of Christ’s Resurrection is, or better said, should be, a life changing event; should be the sparkle that would ignite your whole being in fire, should be the ferment that will initiate your complete refashioning, should be the impulse that will keep you going until the very end on the right path to salvation.
But who believes in miracles today anyway? The Words of Abraham, addressing the unmerciful rich man from the parable of poor Lazarus, make more sense now than ever: “If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded, even though one rose from the dead.” (Luk 16:31). It is true: even after Christ, God Himself, has risen from the dead, we still want more proof. We still want God to prove, personally, to us, that He exists and all about Him is true. However, no matter how much proof we get, as stubborn children, we don’t want to understand and we keep fabricating explanation after explanation to every piece of evidence God puts in front of us.
Starting with the prophets of old and the history of the people of Israel, the Mother of God and the Apostles, continuing with the victorious Martyrs, the Fathers of the Church and all the saints, the miracle working icons, the uncorrupted relics of the saints, and we can go on and on, God surrounded us by “a cloud of witnesses” (Heb 12:1). We cannot continue to ignore all this testimonials that point unmistakably to the existence of a most powerful God Who loves mankind. We just have to open the synaxaries, read the lives of the saints and will see God at work: healing the sick, changing sinners into saints, doing justice to the wronged, giving hope to the hopeless and joy to the mourning. We have to be blind to overlook what should in fact overwhelm us.
What we see in the lives of the saints is nothing but the effect that Resurrection had on them. They did not limit themselves to be observers, to be spectators, to watch the “show” of Resurrection; they decided to play an active role in it. Each one of them declared: I have been crucified with Christ, and I live; yet no longer I, but Christ lives in me. And that life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith toward the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself on my behalf. (Gal 2:20)
Being witnesses to the resurrection of Christ should prompt us to do something different, to loose the old habits that take us away from Him and replace them with new ones that will unite us with Him forever. If we don’t know Him, now is the time to be introduced, if we don’t come to church, now is the time to enter, if we don’t pray, now is the time to ask His mercy, if we don’t love, now is the time to partake in His unmatched love for us.
Don’t let this opportunity slip away by rushing home too soon. Christ is here and extends a hand to you, a hand that can take you out of the Hades of a superficial existence. Take it and be lifted up into life; take it and let Christ show Himself to you, personally, melting away all the doubts with His presence and replacing them with redeeming faith; take it and let this day be the first of your new life in Him.
Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!