My beloved spiritual children in Our Risen Lord Jesus Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS RISEN! TRULY HE IS RISEN!
THE RESURRECTION OF OUR LORD AND SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST (Part IV)
By His Eminence Metropolitan of Nafpaktos HIEROTHEOS
So far we have seen the Resurrection of Christ was a cause of joy and gladness in men, since by it conquered the rule of death, the devil and sin. But we must stress the fact that Christ's Resurrection was also good for the Angels, all the noetic spirits.
In his Paschal Homily Saint Gregory the Theologian spoke of the Angel's words to him: "Today is salvation come unto the world, to that which is visible, and to that which is invisible". This is about the salvation of the Angels. In what sense should it be taken?
We know that after the fall of Lucifer the Angels became slow-moving in evil, which means they could not think evil, but they had not also attained immutability. Saint Nicetas Stethatos says that at the Resurrection of Christ the Angels threw off this slow-movingness and attained immutability, so that now they are not afraid of deterioration and a turn for the worse and the loss which comes from the change. So also the Angels attained immutability, and they have it, not by nature, but by the grace of God.
After this, the Angelic Powers rejoiced at Christ's Resurrection, on the one hand because the fallen luciferian order has been restored, making the words apply "the upper world has been filled", and on the other hand because mankind has been saved. For if, as Christ said, there is great joy in heaven for each man who repents, this is much more true for the salvation of the whole human race (Zonaras).
Saint Gregory the Theologian says that he is persuaded that on the day of the Resurrection the Angelic Powers also feast and celebrate together because they are lovers of God and man. Saint Nikodemos the Hagiorite, with those words in mind, says that it is really out of place for the Angels to rejoice over our salvation and for us who have been saved not to rejoice and with the Angels keep this saving, world-saving feast.
The Day of the Resurrection is also called Pascha. This word is repeated in many troparia (hymns) of the Church and gives spiritual joy to Christians.
According to Saint Gregory the Theologian, the Greek word 'Pascha', derives from the Hebrew word 'Phaska', which means 'crossing'. It is well known that the Hebrews' feast of 'Pascha' celebrates the miraculous crossing of the Red Sea. To be sure, as Saint Gregory the Theologian says, there are some who think that the word 'Pascha' comes from 'to suffer', that is to say, from Christ's suffering for us. However, the former interpretation is better.
Just as the Israelite people celebrated the crossing of the Red Sea and the gaining of their freedom, so too the new Israel of Grace (the Church) celebrates the new crossing from death to life. This interpretation is given by Saint Gregory the Theologian in his homily on Pascha. Saint John of Damascos, taking almost identical texts from Saint Gregory the Theologian, writes: "The Day of Resurrection! Let us be illumined, O ye people! The Passover, the Passover of the Lord! From death unto life, and from earth unto heaven hath Christ our God brought us over, singing a song of victory!"
Celebrating the day of the Pascha Feast, Joseph Vryenios, disciple of Saint Gregory Palamas and teacher of Saint Mark Evgenikos, analyzes the theological meaning of the feast. Pascha is the crossing from darkness to light, coming forth from Hades to the earth, rising from earth to heaven, changing from death to life, resurrection of fallen mortals, recalling of those banished from Eden, deliverance of those in captivity to corruption, the true life of the faithful, delight of all the world, honor of the divine Trinity. The names of Pascha are insatiable, for its grace is many times what they indicate. Pascha is a refreshment of souls, harmony of minds, unburdening of bodies, light for the eyes, sweetness for throats, delight, warmth, peace, joy.
If the feast of Christ's Resurrection is the annual Pascha, there is also the weekly Pascha. Every Sunday the man of faith celebrates Pascha. And indeed the Divine Liturgy and Communion of the Body and Blood of Christ enables him to participate in Pascha. Saint John Chrysostomos says characteristically: "For Pascha is not a fast, but an offering and sacrifice the gathering one by one." "For every time we come together for a Eucharistic gathering, with the necessary ecclesiological preconditions, the powers of Satan are put down (Saint Ignatius Theophoros) and we have the feeling that death has been conquered."
Not only the feast is called Pascha, as a change from death to life, but so is Christ Himself! Moreover, man's salvation is not known apart from the Godman, since He is the way, the truth and life. He is man's resurrection. Therefore in the Canon of the Pascha feast Saint John of Damascus ascribes to Christ the characterization "Passover, Pascha." He writes, "O Christ, the Passover great and most Holy! O Wisdom, Logos/Word and Power of God!" This characterization is related to the holy Apostle Paul's words: "For indeed Christ, Our Passover, was sanctified for us" (1 Corinthians 5:7).
Therefore through Christ, Who is the Living Passover, we too can experience the Passover, which is the crossing from death to life. (Source: The Feasts of the Lord)
(To be continued)
"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!" - Saint John Chrysostomos
With sincere agape in Our Risen Lord, God, Savior and Redeemer Jesus Christ,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God