Dearеst Beloved in the Lord Fathers, Brothers and Sisters,
CHRIST IS RISEN!
Over three thousand years ago Job asked: “If a man dies, will he live again?” (Job.14:14). This question has been asked by every generation in history and is still on the lips of many. Who can answer this question for us?
The scientists have no answer. Their lips are sealed. The agnostics do not know. The materialists believe that human life ends in the grave and the human being is reduced to “earth, …ashes, …and dust”. Even the great religious teachers of the world do not provide an answer to this question, for they are all dead.
But there is One among them, Who has always been and continues to be alive. He not only proclaimed that He is the Resurrection, and the Life, but He actually proved it. St. John, the Theologian, bears witness in his Gospel to this claim of the Lord. (John 11:21-26)
One day, Jesus went to visit Mary and Martha, whose brother, Lazarus, had died. Martha said to Him: “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” Jesus replied: “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said: “I know, that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” Whereupon Jesus said to her, and through her, to all generations of believers, these astonishing words that have brought untold comfort to bereaved families throughout the centuries: “I am the Resurrection and the Life, he who believes in Me, though he may die, yet he shall live, and whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.” Then, standing before the grave of Lazarus, who had been dead for four days, Jesus wept, and crying out with a loud voice, He said: “Lazarus, come out.” And Lazarus walked out of the tomb, still covered with grave clothes.
The Gospel of St. Luke provides two more instances of proof: (Luke 7:11-15), (8:40-56). On another occasion, as Jesus approached the city of Nain, He met a funeral procession coming out of the city. The young man, who had died and was being carried to the cemetery, was the only son of a widow. Seeing the mother in sorrow, Jesus had great compassion. He walked to her and said gently: “Do not weep.” Then, touching the coffin, He said “Young man, I say to you, arise!”
The dead man sat up and began to speak. Jesus then gave him back to his mother. When the people saw this, they exclaimed: “God has visited His people!”
At another time, Jesus brought back to life the 12-year-old daughter of the leader of the local synagogue, Jairus. Saying, that the girl was only asleep, Jesus performed another great miracle, thus proving that since He came into this world, death has power no longer.
The three miracles, which Jesus performed, in a way, foretell our own resurrection, when at a certain time, we will hear His voice and we will be raised by Him to eternal life. No need, therefore to fear death and to mourn for the deceased, like those, who do not believe. Our Savior Himself addressed His Apostles and through them, all of us, by saying: “Truly, truly, I say to you… Do not marvel at this…. Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare for you? I will come again and will take you to Myself, that where I am, you may be also.” (John 14:1-3).
But the greatest proof of all was His Own Resurrection. St. John Chrysostom emphasized that: “God, the Father, allowed Jesus to remain in the tomb not one but three days, in order to convince all sceptics, that He was indeed dead. And after three days, God, the Father, raised Him from the dead.”
In Revelation 1:17-18, we read: “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one; I died, and behold I am alive for evermore. Amen.”
Who can say now, that no one has ever come back from the dead to tell us, whether or not there is another life? Jesus did indeed return from the realm beyond the grave. He not only said He is the Resurrection; He proved it and gave the best answer to Job’s question: “If a man dies, will he live again?” by saying: “I am the Resurrection… Because I live, you shall live also.” “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone, who… believes in Him should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:40)
CHRISTOS VOSCRESE! CHRIST IS RISEN!
With love in the Risen Lord,
(S) + Metropolitan JOSEPH