EASTER PASTORAL OF THE UKRAINIAN CATHOLIC HIERARCHY OF THE U.S.A. TO OUR CLERGY, HIEROMONKS AND BROTHERS, RELIGIOUS SISTERS, SEMINARIANS AND BELOVED FAITHFUL

Monday, 19 March 2018, 12:47
Christ is Risen! Indeed he is Risen! In the beginning was the Word, And the Word was with God, and the Word was God. All things came to be through Him, And without Him nothing came to be. What came to be through Him was life, And this life was the light of the human race (Jn. 1:1—3)

It is customary in our Tradition to hear the Prologue to the Gospel of John (Jn. 1:1-13) in various languages at the Resurrection Liturgy. The passage speaks of the preexistent and incarnate Word and Son of God that has revealed the Heavenly Father to us. One may well wonder about a possible connection between the Prologue, which does not even mention anything of the Resurrection of Our Lord, Jesus Christ, and the glorious feast we celebrate today. And the answer is yes.  The essence of the feast of the Resurrection of Our Lord lies in the fact that the second person of the Holy Trinity, the Son of God, who chose willingly to take on our human nature, to suffer and die on the cross, rose from the dead. He is alive!  He is risen! Christ who is the creator and author of life cannot be bound by the ties of death. As it says in Scripture, “God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power” (Acts 2:24). Christ teaches us about Himself, “I am the resurrection and the life” (Jn. 11:25).  Resurrection is His identity. This is WHO He is.

“Christ is Risen!”, “Indeed He is Risen!” greetings will be heard everywhere around the world.  This is the best and perhaps most ignored message around the world. It was so when it was announced for the first time on Easter morning, and continues to be the case today too. Christ is Risen! Do you believe, doubt or dismiss it? Jesus’ own Apostles had a difficulty to accept the message, “when they saw Him, they worshipped, but they doubted” (Mt. 28:17). They saw Him, but still questioned the fact.  How many times do we wonder and accept Jesus’ real presence in the Eucharist when we receive Him at the Divine Liturgy?

The reason why the Apostles doubted was fear. It is the fear of being wrong about Jesus being alive after they heard and witnessed how He suffered and died on the Cross. Their fear was so powerful that it took them a while to realize the truth of the statement, — Christ is Risen, and its consequences. The outcome of Christ’s Resurrection is twofold as St. Paul states, “Now since the children share in blood and flesh, he likewise shared in them, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and free those who through fear of death had been subject to slavery all their life” (Heb. 2:14-15).

By His Resurrection, Christ removed any uncertainty and fear about our eternity. Christ opened the gates of paradise for us anew. “Christ is risen from the dead, conquering death by death and to those in the tombs He granted life.” There cannot be any fear of death since it has no real power. “Death is swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” (1 Cor. 15:55-56). Death is defeated and we receive eternal life, which is real. This is to fulfill His promise, “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly” (Jn 10:10).

On this glorious feast of the Resurrection of Our Lord, we extend our prayers and wishes that you may not have any fears, worries and doubts in life. May joy and happiness of knowing that we are participants in Christ’s Resurrection be in your hearts, families and communities!  Let us celebrate Easter with a renewed and uplifted faith, hope and love of our Lord!  May the risen Lord bless you abundantly!

Christ is Risen!                  Indeed he is Risen!

+Stefan Soroka
Archbishop of Philadelphia for Ukrainians
Metropolitan of Ukrainian Catholics in the United States
+Paul Chomnycky, OSBM
Eparch of Stamford
+Benedict Aleksiychuk
Eparch of St. Nicholas in Chicago
+ Bohdan J. Danylo
Eparch of St. Josaphat in Parma
+John Bura
Auxiliary Bishop of Philadelphia
 +Andriy Rabiy (author)
Auxiliary Bishop of Philadelphia
 Easter, 2018
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