For or against?
During the celebration of Easter we participate in the final events of the Redeemer’s life: his going up to Jerusalem, his betrayal, suffering, death on the Cross, and in witness to the Resurrection.
After having lived alongside the Redeemer during Great Week, no member of the Church can be neutral! “Whoever is not for me, is against me” (Matthew 12:30).
The significance of the words of the Gospel of Matthew unfolds when we believe that Jesus really descended to Hell and broke the chains of those imprisoned there. Hell is not a symbolic place. It is still a prison for all of us in a moment of despair in our life. The Gospel of Matthew speaks of this abandonment: we cannot be neutral, when we choose to remain in the despair of Hell or to grasp the hand of Jesus, who pulls us up to freedom.
The journey from death to life lies at the core of Easter. It is a leap from emptiness to fullness, from death to life, from darkness to light, from hate to love. The world does not know the experience of the empty tomb of this Easter morning, although it is here in front of us.
The Easter hymns of our Church describe the “new birth” as a feast. This means that in the Holy Spirit we are born and rise to the heights together, the Cross lifted up, risen from the grave and raised up to heaven in this promise: “And when I have been lifted up from the earth, I will draw all unto myself” (John 12:32).
Easter begins our journey toward our promised homeland: heaven. On Great Friday we hear the words: “In my Father’s house there are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have said that I go to prepare a place for you?” (John 14:2). The Church of Christ is a small flock whose task is to bear witness to the world of the promise of the Resurrection.
The light of Easter will not shine on the world without us. Therefore, we sing to all our Easter morning proclamation, in the Resurrection sticheron. It says to whose side we bear witness as Church this Easter.
“Day of Resurrection! Let us celebrate the feast of joy and embrace one another. Brothers and sisters, let us also say to our enemies, ‘Let us forgive everyone because of the Resurrection.’”
Archbishop of Karelia and All Finland