Pascha 2001 (English)
PATRIARCHAL MESSAGE HOLY PASCHA 2001
BY THE GRACE OF GOD,
POPE AND PATRIARCH OF ALEXANDRIA AND ALL AFRICA,
TO ALL THE FAITHFULL OF OUR CHURCH GRACE, PEACE AND MERCY FROM OUR SAVIOUR CHRIST,
WHO RESURRECTED IN GLORY
Brethren concelebrants and beloved children in Christ,
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).
As we continue our humble service of our Lord's love on the ground of Mother Africa, an area condescendingly called the "third world" by those who have been privileged to live in a civilization of overabundance and overconsumption, in the order of secular determinism, with great sadness and coherence of heart, we become daily participants in suffering of a wonder that sounds expressively like the early-morning wonder of the Myrrh-bearing women: "Who will roll away the stone from the door of the tomb for us?" (Mark 16:3).
This stone, which is a very large stone, bears the scripts and the seals of injustice, exploitation, racial discrimination, inequality, fraud, incurable disease and the destruction of the environment.
Our wonder is heightened when we hear the same from the civilized "first world" in a technical and man-made chaos, in the alienation of individuals and characters, contemporary wars, gluttonous benefits, artificial paradise, and irreparable disasters of ecology. "Who will roll away the stone from the tomb for us?" (Mark 16:3). A tomb sculptured by our own hands, that we entered while we were still living.
With this wonder still fresh in our minds we walked for forty days following the example of our Lord in order to participate in His suffering; however, the Myrrh-bearing women preempted us, saying: "...the stone had been rolled away for it was very large". (Mark 16:4) - "The Lord is risen" (Mark 16:6). He who is the firstborn, is risen from the dead and has unsealed all the tombs.
Behold, the light, the life and the joy which come from His tomb; but those who consider themselves as dead did not come out to welcome Him, as they "loved darkness rather than light" (John 3:19), "...the true Light, which gives light to every man coming into the world". (John 1:9).
Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ,
What plagues contemporary societies is the lessening of love which renders those societies as substantially desolate, as arid and inhospitable lands, truly like living in sealed tombs.
Unfortunately this weakness stems from the cells of families and personalities, who, though they seek love, remain indecisive and suspicious when they have to express this love in a direct and honest way.
The decision to love will remain always the only substantial criterion of any authenticity in the age that precedes the eternal Kingdom of Heaven.
This love will evaluate whether the new Millennium will be a Millennium of love or a Millennium of ravage, hatred and destruction.
This love must be applied indiscriminately and decisively to our humble brothers and sisters, who have the blessing and sufferance to be considered as trifling, forsaken and despised. In fact, these brothers and sisters are the criterion of our judgment by Him, Who will come in glory to judge the living and the dead.
Through this eschatological route of the Orthodox Church, the prospect and birth of the Love that comes from the Gospel, we realize that, along with the joyful sounds of the bells, our spiritual bells of awakening and hope should sound as well, for this hope functions together with the conviction that springs from the Tomb of the Life Giver, a conviction that St Paul expressively states: "He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus" (2 Corinthians 4:14).
Beloved brothers and sisters,
Christ is risen. Nobody should consider himself or herself, dead. "Death has been conquered, Hades has been emptied" We should raise ourselves from any bitterness of suffering and misfortunes and follow Him, the only Life Giver, Who abolished "the power of death, that is, the devil" ( Hebrews 2:14).
With these thoughts, We invite all of you to join hands for new endeavors in aspects of love and together to exclaim the only true and historic declaration, that which can formulate the hope of the life of the age to come. The declaration that "CHRIST IS RISEN"!
For all of you, your fervent intercessor unto God,
Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa
In the Great City of
Holy Pascha 2001