Ref. No. 209
PATRIARCHAL MESSAGE FOR THE FEAST OF PASCHA
BY THE GRACE OF GOD POPE AND PATRIARCH OF ALEXANDRIA AND ALL AFRICA TO ALL MEMBERS OF OUR HOLY CHURCH; MAY THE GRACE, PEACE AND MERCY OF THE RESURRECTED SAVIOUR JESUS CHRIST BE WITH US ALL
'Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying: I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.'
My beloved children, CHRIST IS RISEN!
Apart from being the loftiest event for the salvation of the world and being a praiseworthy reason for this celebration of all people, the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, the incarnated 'Logos', is de facto the axis of the world's history. For this reason we sing: 'The Light of Jesus shines upon everyone.' The Light of the Resurrection illuminates the course of the world, overshadows conscious and unconscious vanities and gives meaning to the teleological i.e. the perfect transfiguration of humankind and the universe.
With this understanding the Church during its two thousand year history ceaselessly radiates the light of the Resurrection and eternally confirms the conviction that this light differs in nature from that of the sun as the sun is created light, which will one day cease. The light of the Resurrection prevails over any other kind of light, visible or invisible because it is ‘uncreated’. The light of the Resurrection inspired the Disciples to preach to all nations, strengthened the martyrs in their martyrdom, sustained the ascetics and hermits throughout the ages and granted grace to hierarchs. At the same time this light aroused the writers who were inspired by God to write the hagiographic texts, the patristic writings and compose the Church's hymnology. Finally in any historical circumstance it harmonizes the philanthropic and compassionate aspects of the Holy Fathers of the Church.
The ecclesiastical awareness comprehends the light of the Resurrection as 'the fountain of life' that restores everything. In truth, the light of the empty Tomb possesses all creation, taking into account that Jesus restores in His Divine countenance humankind's 'true nature,' that laments and grieves being conquered by death. Jesus was resurrected 'He became the Resurrection, the eternal life. He is the one Who cast off despair, so it could be manifest that man's nature has been created by God in His own image, to honor the mortal flesh, as He has a double nature in order to unite God with man.' (St. Gregory Palamas)
Behold, the light of the Resurrection cannot be concealed by the earth's environmental catastrophe, or by the multitude of social problems and human suffering. By the existence of the Light of the Resurrection the Church has the ability to address any issue it encounters. This is something that cannot always be consciously understood. All nations and all people have been called to the enlightenment from the Tomb, the joyful Resurrection. By possessing the 'awe' and 'ecstasy' of the Myrrh Bearing Women when they saw the empty Tomb (as it is described in the Gospel of St. Mark, 15:1), we would participate in all the benefits.
These benefits would be the peaceful relationships between civilizations, nations and individuals!
St. Mark, the Apostle and Evangelist, the founder of the Church of Alexandria, Our Apostolic See, describes the Resurrection as the cornerstone in the birth of the evangelization of the African nations, a region under the immediate jurisdiction of our historic Patriarchate.
The bright and lustrous empty Tomb of the Resurrected Jesus unites the world through missionary work, pastoral care and the liturgical life. It is our ecclesiastical responsibility to be united in the name of Jesus by striving to cope with the fear of war, struggles and natural disasters.
My beloved children in Christ,
Through history we can see that fear of war disrupts the peaceful coexistence of various nations and hinders their co-operation. The Church always pleads in every possible way and emphasizes the importance of attaining peaceful solutions for various disputes. The Church insistently seeks peaceful coexistence because the incarnated, buried and Resurrected Jesus is the Bishop and Creator of all and He has shown us through His incarnation the great significance and the value of human life by uniting human nature with His divine nature.
The ecclesiastical body understands and approaches life as a perfect doxology and an absolute Eucharist or thanksgiving to God, following the example of the Messiah who honored life. Therefore the Church's constant prayer and permanent hope for peace must remain steadfast. The Church always honors laws and civil authorities, however it cannot take lightly the immediate or imminent turmoil that would create human victims and other disasters, be they environmental, cultural or territorial etc. The conflicts of war pass yet the illuminating Light of the Resurrection remains eternal and can illuminate the heart, which is the center of life, and this belief gives us an eternal and stable hope for restoration, reconciliation and transfiguration. In such cases the armed forces are rendered powerless.
From our Holy See with the distress of war being planned and spoken of; with tensions mounting; we repeat once again the invitation to participate in the joyful feast of the Resurrection. At the same time, paternally, it is Our wish that the luminous light of the Lord's Tomb enlighten all people's hearts and resolve any discord and inhumanity. We also wish that it illuminates all people's works, those that are individual, collective, ecclesiastical and all other endeavors that life may be celebrated. Further, may the transforming light of the Resurrection, the greatest power that exists, one that cannot be expressed in words, strengthen all of us within.
With the fervent blessings of the Lord who is Risen from the dead,
+ PETROS VII
By the Grace of God
Pope & Patriarch of Alexandria & All Africa
In the Great City of Alexandria,
HOLY PASCHA 2003