“Freedom is a journey upward and toward our neighbour”: Ecumenical Patriarch in Easter Encyclical

In his encyclical for Holy Pascha, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew notes that “all that we believe, all that we love, and all that we hope as Orthodox Christians is associated with Pascha, from which everything derives its vividness, through which everything is interpreted, and in which everything acquires its true meaning.”

Patriarch Bartholomew highlights that “the Resurrection of Christ is the response of the Divine love to the anguish and expectation of man, but also to the “yearning” of creation that groans with us.”

“In the Resurrection,” His Holiness explained, “the life in Christ is revealed as liberation and freedom.”

“The freedom of a believer, grounded on the Cross and Resurrection of the Saviour, is a journey upward and toward our neighbour; it is “faith working through love”. It is an exodus from the “Egypt of slavery” and of the diverse alienations, the Christ-given transcendence of an introverted and shrivelled existence, the hope of eternity that renders man human.”

“The chief characteristic of this God-given freedom of the believer is the unrelenting resurrectional pulse, this freedom’s vigilance and dynamism,” the Ecumenical Patriarch wrote.

“Its character as a gift of grace not only does not restrict, but in fact manifests our own consent to this gift, and strengthens our journey and our conduct into this new freedom, which also contains the restoration of our estranged relationship with creation.”

A festival of freedom

“Holy Pascha is not merely a religious feast, albeit the greatest feast for us Orthodox,” the Patriarch of Constantinople underlined.

“Every Divine Liturgy, every prayer and supplication of the faithful, every feast and commemoration of Saints and Martyrs, the honour of sacred icons, the “abundant joy” of Christians (2 Cor. 8.2), every act of sacrificial love and fraternity, the endurance of sorrow, the hope that never disappoints the people of God, is a festival of freedom.”

“All of these radiate the paschal light and exude the fragrance of the Resurrection,” Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew underscored.

Photography courtesy of Nikos Manginas / Ecumenical Patriarchate

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