In an interview granted to L’Osservatore Romano, His Beatitude Theophilos III of Jerusalem spoke of “The Light that enlightens everyone”: the Holy Fire which emerges from the Holy Sepulchre at the Orthodox Easter time. It is a gift of the Orthodox Church to the whole world, said the Patriarch of Jerusalem.
“The ceremony of the Holy Fire has its origins in the early years of the Church when the liturgical practices of the Church were developed and it is one of the most ancient experiences in our tradition in the Church of Jerusalem,” His Beatitude said.
The patriarch said the coming of the Holy Light at the Resurrection Church in Jerusalem was “a foretaste of the resurrection”.
“This is an experience of the Uncreated Light that shines from the Holy Tomb and that is symbolised in the lighted candles that spread light not only throughout the church, but throughout the world,” said the Patriarch of Jerusalem.
The Holy Light is witness of the Lord’s Resurrection
“Even in times of persecution and difficulty for the Church of Jerusalem in ages past, the witness of the Holy Fire has continued,” he added.
Thus, “the Holy Fire is a potent sign of the continuity of the faith of the Church in the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ,” explained Patriarch Theophilos.
“From the same place from which the Holy Fire emerges every year our Lord himself emerged after his three-day burial, to declare that death had been destroyed forever and that the new life of the resurrection is open to all,” emphasized the leader of the Jerusalem Church.
“The living flame is a witness to the living Lord, the ‘Father of lights’ (James 1:17). Christ Himself said: ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life’.” (John 8:12)
Man is partakes in the mystery of divine life
“The Holy Fire reminds us of the mystery of God’s divine life and our own human existence: our God-created purpose to ‘become sharers of divine nature”'” (II Peter 1:4), affirmed the patriarch.
“Life itself is a great and sacred mystery, and this life has been given to the human family in the creation,” he added.
The light which unites the world
Patriarch Theophilos underlined another aspect of the Holy Light: it unites people of different Christian denominations and different religions.
“The Holy Fire gives its light generously to all, so that all who wish to receive it may know the illumination that the Uncreated Light brings to our hearts and minds. The Holy Fire itself is a reflection of the fire that burns in the heart of every person in search of God, and so it is no wonder that it continues to attract and inspire thousands of people.”
“So, the Holy Fire is not just for the Orthodox: it is a gift from the Orthodox Church to the world which is in great difficulty and confusion, and which longs for the true ‘Light that enlightens everyone'” (John 1:9).
Photo: Facebook / Jerusalem-Patriarchate