Celebrating the 13th Easter of his patriarchal ministry, His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel delivered a homily at the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday, reflecting on the joy and peace that the Resurrection of Christ offers us, thus driving away our sadness and sorrow. “The resurrection,” said the Patriarch, “is for us a cure for sorrow.”
His Beatitude insisted on the healing that we receive from Christ the Lord through His Resurrection and referred to the coronavirus pandemic that brought much suffering and sorrow into the world.
“There are a lot of grieving families who have sadness and a lot of pain in their souls, in their homes, because they lost their loved ones, who died in hospitals or their own homes, not only because of the pandemic, some also died because of other diseases, but especially this pandemic has brought much sadness.”
“That is why there are also many people who are sad because of fear, uncertainty and, especially, loneliness.”
“We have more and more signs that there is a lot of depression. A lot of people need encouragement, a touch of joy in the soul and, above all, peace in the soul. Therefore, many come and confess and ask the priest for advice and, especially, ask for prayer. So, the Resurrection of the Saviour Jesus Christ is for us healing of sorrow as one of the hymns of tonight says: O Pascha! Ransom from sorrow,” His Beatitude said May 2.
Let us bring joy from the joy of Christ
The Patriarch of Romania urged everyone to bring “joy through word and deed, through gifts, through visits, through a telephone conversation, through a sign of appreciation to those who are grieving, sad, lonely, disoriented, to those who are in a confused state.”
“Let us bring joy from the joy of Christ and bring peace to the souls of those who are troubled, disoriented, and at the same time overwhelmed with uncertainty. By this, we show that we share the peace and joy of Christ by becoming heralds of the Resurrection of Christ.”
Who receives His joy and peace?
His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel reminded that the first words that the Saviour Jesus Christ addressed after His Resurrection were “Rejoice” (to the myrrh-bearing women) and “Peace be with you” (to the disciples and apostles).
On the morning of His Resurrection, He said to the myrrh-bearing women, “Rejoice, do not be afraid,” and on the evening of His Resurrection, He went through the locked doors, stood amid the disciples, and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
“Thus He brought joy instead of the sorrow to the myrrh-bearing women at the grave, and brought peace to the souls of the disciples who were afraid and troubled by the fear of being persecuted by the Jews.”
“This joy given to the myrrh-bearing women and this peace given to His disciples, He offers to all who believe in Him, love Him and fulfills His will in their lives.”
True peace and joy are received only in the Church of Christ, the Patriarch recalled, referring to the words of St. Maximos the Confessor who called the Church “the laboratory of the Resurrection.”
“Why is it the laboratory of the Resurrection? Because it gives us joy from the joy of Christ and peace from the peace of Christ.
“When man sins, he is in a kind of war with God and with his fellow people; when he reconciles with God through repentance and with his fellows through their forgiveness, then he obtains joy and peace from the peace of Christ.”
The Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church noted that the feast of Holy Pascha gives meaning to the universe and explained why, at the beginning of the service, the proclamation of the Lord’s Resurrection is made not inside the place of worship, but outside: because the Resurrection of Christ is the beginning of the Resurrection of all people at the end of the ages.
The Resurrection of the Lord, a transition beyond death
His Beatitude referred to the difference between the Resurrection of Christ and the raising of Lazarus, noting that the Saviour’s Resurrection represents the beginning of eternal life, the beginning of the transition to heavenly life.
“The Resurrection of the Lord is not the Resurrection of a corpse; it is not the return to earthly life as the raising of Lazarus was. The Resurrection of the Saviour Jesus Christ is a passing over, a Passover (this means the word Passover in Hebrew) is a transition beyond death, not a return to earthly life mixed with death. That is why in tonight’s hymns, it is said, “We celebrate the death of death, the destruction of hell, the beginning of eternal life.”
“This new, eternal life,” Patriarch Daniel explained, “is given to us in the Church of Christ in the Holy Eucharist in the most intense way.”
The Resurrection: the exclusive gift of God’s love for humans
The Romanian Patriarch emphasized that Christ’s victory over hell, sin, and death is proof that the Saviour is truly free and gives us true freedom.
“Therefore, the Resurrection of Christ does not only concern the human psyche but also the human body and the entire universe because the Resurrection of Christ corrects all creation, all humankind, all people, whether they believe in God or not. They will all be resurrected. As in Adam, all die, in Christ all will rise.”
The Patriarch of Romania stressed that “the resurrection is the exclusive gift of God’s love for all people”, but “the joyful or unhappy existence, after the universal resurrection, depends on the will of the people, on their freedom.”
“Those who have loved God and their fellows will rejoice eternally with the merciful God in the Kingdom of Heaven. Those who have not loved God or their fellows cannot rejoice with the Merciful God because they have not been merciful.”
The Patriarch thanked the pilgrims
Concelebrants for the Easter midnight service included the patriarchal auxiliary bishop Varlaam of Ploieşti and Assistant Bishop Timotei of Prahova. The Divine Liturgy was celebrated in the open air, in the porch of the Patriarchal Residence.
Pilgrims who attended the service received packages of blessed Easter bread sprinkled with wine. To observe the sanitary norms, 500 seats were placed on the Patriarchate’s Hill, so that social distancing be respected.
Priests and deacons distributed the Holy Fire to avoid any congestion.
His Beatitude congratulated the pilgrims for the exemplary way they participated in the holy and great celebration of Pascha.
“We pray to the Saviour Jesus Christ, who rose from the dead, to give you the joy He gave to the myrrh-bearing women on the morning of His Resurrection and the peace He gave to His Holy Disciples and Apostles on the evening of His Resurrection,” the Patriarch said ending his speech.
Photography courtesy of Basilica.ro / Mircea Florescu
Follow us on Twitter: @BasilicaNews