Life Over Death
It is the day of Resurrection, let us be radiant for the feast, and let us embrace one another. Let us call even those that hate us our brothers and sisters, and let us forgive all things in the Resurrection, thus crying out: Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and on those in the tombs bestowing life.
Christ’s resurrection is all about life over death, about light over darkness, about goodness over evil, about joy over sorrow, about new beginnings over dead ends. Jesus confronted all forms of darkness and evil – betrayal, denial, rejection, ridicule, persecution, torture, and even unjust and cruel death. He confronted each form of evil by not giving in to it; he didn’t allow the evil to lead Him to respond in an evil way. Instead, he responded to every form of evil with divine love.
Although Christ was unjustly arrested, tortured, and mocked while he was being brutally killed, He didn’t lower himself to his antagonists’ level and allow hatred and revenge fill his mind. Instead, He responded to evil with good, to hatred with love and mercy and grace. “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing” He said to those who were killing him. To Peter who denied him three times, He gave the Apostle a new chance by asking him three times, “Peter, do you love me?” He didn’t even call His legions of angels to come and save Him from death, instead he embraced death, and then overcame it, turning death itself into nothing more than a pathway into the Kingdom of Heaven.
Pascha, and Christ’s victory tonight is all about conquering Satan, sin and death with love. And He set an example and a path for all His followers to imitate. When we are confronted with evil, and tempted to return evil for evil, we remember Jesus praying for his persecutors with the words, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.”
Forgiveness is much harder, and greater, than hatred and revenge.
Christ shows that His divine love far exceeds any darkness or evil. No matter what others do to Him, he will not allow himself to be pulled down to their level. And that is our call as His followers. Don’t return evil for evil, overcome evil with goodness and love.
This is why we sing in the resurrectional hymn:
It is the day of Resurrection, let us be radiant for the feast, and let us embrace one another. Let us call even those that hate us our brothers and sisters, and let us forgive all things in the Resurrection, thus crying out Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and on those in the tombs bestowing life.
Macarius the Great of Egypt; Mark, Bishop of Ephesus; Arsenius of Corfu; Makarios of Alexandria; Makarios, Hierodeacon of Kalogera, Patmos; Removal of the Honorable Relics of Saint Gregory the Theologian; Branwallader, Bishop of Jersey
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