Just as the darkness of night is temporary and is followed by the light of the day and just as a sea storm is followed by calm and a violent storm by the clear sky, so are, the glooms of the Passion to which man led the God-Man Jesus Christ, and the storm of the mockery and the false accusations and the illegal court and the violent storm of the Cross, and the death followed by the light, the calm and the joy of the Resurrection.
Golgotha without the Resurrection does not exist. Similarly, there is no Resurrection if the Cross did not precede it. These two go together. For this reason our Orthodox Church reveres the Cross always in the light of the Resurrection. Remember on Good Thursday evening we chanted to the Crucified Lord: “We worship Your Passion, 0 Christ. Show also unto us Your glorious Resurrection.” At the same time, when we saw Him Crucified on the Cross, behind the Cross, in the depth, we saw shining dimly “the chosen and holy Day, the first of the Sabbaths, the Queen and the Mistress”, the all-delightful Day of the Resurrection.
But also on the joyous day of the Resurrection, in the climate of gladness, of enthusiasm and celebrations we do not forget the painful furnace of Good Friday. We remember it and we know that we have reached this point after Golgotha, the Cross and the Grave. In order that we are able to say “Christ is Risen”, the “crucify Him” on the one hand and the “It is finished!..” on the other were heard firstly.
The Pascha of the Orthodox is a Cross-Resurrection Pascha. Our Resurrection joy is a joy paid by the Cross. Similarly, the sorrow that filled our soul on Good Friday was a sorrow enlightened by the Resurrection. We do not have just sorrow nor just joy. We call the feelings that fill our hearts “joyous sorrow”. And this joyous sorrow suits our Nation very well, which is a nation with a lot of pain, tears and problems, but also with distinct blessings from God. Perhaps no other nation has identified as much its fortune with Christ and His Holy Orthodox Church as has our Greek Nation. Its life course is also a Cross-Resurrection. Its sorrow is always enlightened by the joy of hope to the Saviour Christ but also its joys are also mixed with sorrow, not only for its historical adventures throughout the ages, but also for its sins, which certainly are not few. We Greeks are a people who can say to God “We only sin against You, Lord, but also only You we worship”.
It is significant that for us the Orthodox Easter is the most joyous and prominent feast of the ecclesiastical year and not Christmas which happens to be so for the western Christians. They approach the Mystery of the Incarnation more with the celebration of the birth of Christ (because of this arises the custom to celebrate their Birthday and not their Name Day) while we approach the Mystery of the Incarnation more with the celebration of the Resurrection (for this reason arises the custom to celebrate our Name Day in memory of our resurrection from the Hades of our life without Christ, by our Holy Baptism). The victory of Christ over Death is for us the most joyous and full of hope reality. As individuals, but also as a Greek Orthodox Nation, we have lived and always live-intensely the bitterness of death. Our sins on the one hand and the historical adventures on the other, many times have brought us and are bringing us to the chambers of Hades. To the depths of Death. This makes us not only to feel intensely the need for death to be defeated, for Hades to be dissolved, for the Resurrection to dawn, but also to live more with the joy, when at last Hades is abolished and death is defeated by the God-Man Jesus Christ, and His Resurrection scatters everywhere the light of salvation.
All these apply equally well for our Orthodox brethren of other nations: Serbian, Russian, Romanian, Arab, Georgian, Bulgarian etc. Thus our Orthodox Church is characterised by other Christians “The Church of the Resurrection”. Characteristically, it is indeed this element that makes many, who are disenchanted with the present way of life and the Western Theological thought which does not satisfy them, because it has not given the due gravity to the Resurrection, which is the Alpha and Omega of our faith in Christ (see 1 Corinthians 15, 14, 17-19; “And if Christ had not risen then our preaching is in vain, and your faith is also in vain. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is in vain; you are still in your sins. Then they who also have fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable”), to turn to Orthodoxy, to search to find salvation.
It is our joy to preach, like Saint Paul the Apostle, Christ and the Resurrection. The Resurrection of the God-Man as the assurance of our own Resurrection also. Our personal victory against death and our participation in the eternal, immortal and most blessed life of the All Holy, and Consubstantial, and Life-giving, and Indivisible Trinity.
from Transfiguration Greek Orthodox Church, Lowell MA, USA
BY METROPOLITAN JOSEPH OF PROIKONESSOS