Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from an Orthodox Perspective
Malankara World Journal
Volume 6 No. 341 March 26, 2016
Easter - This is the Day of Gladness and Joy
"This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it."  - Ps 118:24

David invites all creation to celebrate this day and rejoice and be glad in it. For today, Christ's resurrection has opened the resting-place of the dead; the Holy Spirit has shown us heaven. Hell, now opened, gives up its dead; its youth renewed, the earth buds forth those who are risen; and heaven opens wide to welcome those who mount up towards it.

The thief has gone up to paradise (Lk 23,43); the bodies of the saints enter the holy city (Mt 27,53)... At the resurrection of Christ all the elements, moved by a kind of momentum, are raised towards the heights. Hell hands over to the angels all those whom it was holding captive; heaven presents to the Lord all those it has received... Christ's resurrection is life for the dead, pardon for sinners, glory for the saints. Thus King David calls all creation to celebrate Christ's resurrection and encourages it to leap for joy and gladness in this day the Lord has made.

Yet you will ask..., heaven and hell have not been included in the daylight of this world, so can we expect these elements to celebrate a day that completely misses them? But the day the Lord has made penetrates all things, contains all things and encompasses at one and the same time heaven, earth and hell! Christ's light is not blocked by walls nor broken by the elements nor darkened by shadows. The light of Christ is truly a day without night, a day without end. It shines forth everywhere, radiates everywhere, remains everywhere.

- Saint Maximus of Turin (c.420)

It was a long journey to prepare for this day. 50 days of Great Lent that culminated in the Passion Week when we immersed ourselves into the passion of our Savior. Christ died on the cross so that we are saved from the death. He has paid the wages of our sins; so now we are eligible to be the sons and daughters of the world.

If you go to a Catholic Church, you will see behind the alter a giant sized crucifix - Jesus Christ hanging on the cross. It reminds us what Jesus did for us on Good Friday. But when we come to our Syriac Orthodox churches, the crucifix is missing in the Madbaha. Does it mean that we do not give any importance to the crucifixion of Jesus like Catholic Church do? Absolutely not. Our crosses are empty. Jesus had to die for us. But Christianity's biggest faith is the resurrection of Jesus and the empty tomb. (Prior to resurrection, Jesus had to die first.)

Our Nicene Creed says,

"He was crucified for us in the days of Pontius Pilate. And suffered and died and was buried. And the third day rose again according to his will, and ascended into heaven."

St. Paul said that if Christ hasn't resurrected, we are telling a lie; all our teachings are in vain.

We have 'naked' crosses because Christ is not there in the cross. The angels told the women on the Easter Sunday,

"He is not here. He is risen as he said."

He is risen as he said!

Yes Jesus told his disciples before his death that all these things will happen. But they did not quite grasp it at that time. They were too busy arguing who among them was the greatest! After Jesus' passion and Easter Sunday, they recalled what Jesus told them before his Passion. It was all part of the grand plan of the God to redeem us!

For Christianity, the empty tomb has higher significance than the crucifixion. But crucifixion  had to happen prior to the empty tomb! So, they are both important.

This year, we had the day of annunciation to St. Mary when the word became flesh (where it all began) coincided with the Good Friday (the day Jesus was crucified and died). Today he rose from the dead, as he said before, and defeated the death. Mission completed.

It was a long journey. Yes we can be glad today. We are saved from the bondage of sin!

Filled with joy, let us proclaim with the priest:

Christ is Risen!
Indeed He is Risen!!

We wish you all a Happy Easter.

Dr. Jacob Mathew
Malankara World


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