Thousands of believers came Saturday night on the Hill of the Patriarchate to receive the Holy Fire from the Romanian Patriarch. His Beatitude Daniel officiated the Resurrection Service in front of his patriarchal residence. Also present was His Grace Bishop Timotei of Prahova.
After distributing the Holy Fire to the faithful and uttering Christ is risen, the Head of the Romanian Orthodox Church addressed everyone present with a homily focusing on the importance of the greatest feast of Christianity – the Resurrection of the Lord.
His Beatitude explained first why the Easter Service is officiated outside the church building. It is not because there is no space for everyone. By proclaiming Christ’s Resurrection in the night, just as His death was proclaimed in nighttime on Good Friday, we understand that Christ’s death on the Cross and His Resurrection weren’t performed for Himself, but for the life and salvation of the entire world, the patriarch said April 16.
The Lord’s Resurrection addresses all people, the Patriarch added. The Resurrection of our Saviour Jesus Christ is the beginning of the resurrection of all humans and concerns all humans from all ages and places. The Resurrection, he said, addresses both those who believe in Christ and those who don’t. Christ’s Resurrection is the beginning of the universal resurrection. Christ’s Resurrection represents for us the beginning of our ultimate future, for man was not created for the tomb, but for heavenly eternal life.
Patriarch Daniel went on to explain the symbolism of the Paschal Hymn saying that this hymn concentrates in itself the entire teaching of the Church on Christ’s Resurrection and on our resurrection at the end of ages. This troparion, he said, is at the same time a profession of faith, an interpretation and a prophecy.
The explanation that by death has He trampled down death shows us that Christ’s Resurrection is not a mere reanimation of a corpse. The Risen Christ does not return to the earthly life, which is mixed with suffering and death. The Resurrection of the Lord is different from the raising of Lazarus since Christ never dies anymore. Death no longer has dominion over Him (Rom. 6:9).
That by death has He trampled down death, His Beatitude added, means that Christ overcame death not by avoiding it, but by assuming and overcoming it from within. Jesus transformed death into Passover, into the passing over to eternal life.
When faithful carry candles they represent the Christians from all places and ages who believed in Christ and have been chanting for two thousand years the Paschal Hymn: Christ is risen from the dead! The candle we hold represents our very life.
The Patriarch noted that we are all Paschal candles since baptism, which is also called illumination and sanctification. We stand before the eternal God as Paschal candles or torches. His Beatitude said that in our earthly life the most important thing is to acquire spiritual light in our soul in order to become a Paschal candle.
During these holy and great days, the Patriarch urged everyone to spread light, peace and joy in their families and in society so that we can experience the joy of the Saints from all ages and places.
After the patriarchal homily, the Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom was celebrated at the Patriarchal Cathedral.