Wednesday, April 15, 2009
I Hate 'Happy Easter'!
I've told my congregation so for the past two Easters. In Greece the traditional greeting is 'Christos Anesti!'. Why can't we greet one another with 'Christ is Risen!' and 'Indeed, He is Truly Risen!' 'Happy Easter' seems to me to be just a banal phrase, quasi-religious, but so inoffensive that no one could object to it nor be challenged by it. Could that be why we use it? Have the materialists, atheists, agnostics and those who want to water down our faith won the day and beaten us down so that all we can proclaim is 'Happy Easter'. Time, then, to fight back, rediscover what Christ has done for us and proclaim it from the housetops: 'Christ is Risen!'
But what does 'Christ is Risen' mean? Resurrection is more than resuscitation. Lazarus was to die again; Christ cannot die. Where He had before hidden His Divinity (except at the Transfiguration) He now reveals it gently, stage by stage. He leads the shocked and frightened disciples towards acceptance of the greatest miracle of all: the resurrection not only of Christ but of all the saved. The Resurrection is the Father's response to the self-emptying of the Son. Through the Incarnation the Word and Image of the Father emptied Himself out in humble and obedient love and worship of the Father and thus revealed the Father to us. On Good Friday this self-emptying reached its climax as the Way, the Truth and the Life embraced the suffering of the cross, more the suffering of Love unreturned, rejected and despised. It is in death, the tomb and the descent to the land of the dead that the Word reaches the ultimate state of abasement. The Father's response is to lift the Son from death and us with Him, up out of death and separation from God and from one another into communion with God and a place in Christ on the Father's throne. The Mass then is our chance to participate in the whole work of Christ as by grace, the power of the Holy Spirit we are present as these mysteries unfold. Reason only gets us so far, only faith-filled love can take us all the way.
The icon is a fresco by Emmanuel Panselinos (c.1290) from the Protaton Church, Karyes, Mount Athos