Pascha and Bright Week 2015 (PDF)

All the blogs posted for Pascha and Bright Week are now available in one document, a PDF which you can find at:  Pascha and Bright Week 2015 (PDF). 

You can find links to all the Lenten, Holy Week and Bright Week blogs I’ve posted for the past years as PDFs at Fr. Ted’s Blog Series.   Each year I collect all of the posted blogs from the Lenten and Paschal seasons  and put them together as  PDFs.

I will also be gathering all of the blogs related to the Post-Paschal Sundays into a PDF which will be published after Pentecost.

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Celebrating the Death of Death

“We celebrate the death of death, the destruction of Hades, the beginning of another, eternal life…

John Chrysostom says:

‘What does ‘creation was subjected to futility’ mean? It means that it became susceptible to corruption. Because of whom and why? Because of you, O man. For since you received a corruptible body susceptible to passions, the world became cursed…But it…will be freed from the slavery of corruption, that is, it will not be corruptible any more, but will conform to the beauty of your body.’

Creation will become incorruptible when man becomes incorruptible, but man’s hope in incorruption is based on Christ. He died and was buried but did not undergo decay, opening the path of incorruption to all mankind and therefore to all creation. Christ’s redemption of man has significance for the fate of the whole created world.” (Archbishop Hilarion Alfeyev, Christ the Conqueror of Hell, pp 197-198)

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The Doubting Saint Thomas

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him; but some doubted. (Matthew 28:16-17)

St. Matthew in his Gospel account of the disciples encountering the Risen Lord Jesus reports that some of the disciples upon seeing Jesus were apparently doubtful about who they were encountering or about the resurrection itself.  Matthew offers us no detail about the nature of their doubt or about which disciples were dubious.  St. John in his Gospel (120:19-31) does describe for us one disciple, Thomas, and his doubts about the resurrection of Christ.

On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe.”

Eight days later, his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. The doors were shut, but Jesus came and stood among them, and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side; do not be faithless, but believing.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.” Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name.

St. Nikolai Velimirovic (d. 1956AD) comments that we should never be ashamed of our friends who are weak in faith or who doubt God at times:

“The Lord appeared this second time for Thomas’s sake – for the sake of one man, one sinner. He who is surrounded by the angelic choirs that joyfully hail Him as the Conqueror of death, leaves His heavenly flock and hastens to save one wandering sheep. Let all those who, coming to great glory and power in this world, forget their weak and humble friends and, with shame and scorn, draw back from them, be ashamed at His example. In His love for mankind, He – glorified and almighty – came down a second time into one simple room in Jerusalem. Oh, that blessed room, out of which there poured more blessings on the human race than there could ever be from all the palaces of emperors! When the Lord appeared to Thomas, Thomas cried out with joy: ‘My Lord and my God!’ With these words, Thomas acknowledged Christ as both Man and God, both in one, living Person.” (HOMILIES VOL 1, pp 222-223)

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Bright Saturday (2015)

St Basil the Great (d. 379AD), whose liturgy we celebrate on the Sundays of Great Lent, says humans were driven from paradise by Satan and it is only in connection with Satan that humans encounter mortality.

“… our ancient home … from which the man-slaying demon drove us, selling mankind into slavery by his allurements, here, I say, you will see the first origin of man and death, which immediately seized upon us and which had been begotten by sin…”

Sin leads to death, and it is death which spread to all humanity (Romans 5:12). However, in the resurrection we find ourselves saved by God who created us and loves us. We again encounter the many dimensions of salvation.

“Now, what is the difference between being saved and being delivered? Properly speaking, those who are weak need safety, but those who are held in captivity need deliverance.”   (EXEGETIC HOMILIES, pp 84, 167)

Humanity weakened by sin and by separation from God needs the safety of God to protect us from the ravages of sin and death. Salvation is God freely giving us this safety from destruction. Salvation is also God delivering us from captivity in Hades, where Death and Satan held us captive. Christ descends into death and raises the dead by His own resurrection.

Christ is risen!   Indeed He is risen!

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Bright Friday (2015)

The celebration of Pascha is the celebration of salvation.

“The Greek word for salvation, soteria, has two possible etymologies, which give rise to tow different nuances of meaning.

According to the first etymology, the word comes from the ancient Greek verb saoo/soo, which later became sozo, meaning I make something sound … I bring it to its wholeness, its integrity.

The second etymology derives the word from the noun soter, which indicates the agent of the verb sozein, whereupon soteria is the action or the result of this agency, deliverance, or liberation from some threat, from a difficult situation, danger, or disaster.”   (Christos Yannaras, AGAINST RELIGION, p 63)

In Orthodoxy, we celebrate both meanings of the word salvation. Christ saves, liberates, delivers us from the power of sin and death. In raising humanity from the dead, Christ restores us to wholeness, gives us health by uniting us to divinity.

Christ is Risen!   Truly, He is Risen!

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Bright Thursday (2015)

It is the resurrection of Christ which brings His disciples to understand there is a first Adam, a flesh and blood human, and a last Adam, Christ who is the first firsts of a new creation (1 Corinthians 15:42-50). The first Adam created to have dominion over the earth became dominated by death. The second Adam, the new man, Jesus Christ, used His own death to destroy death and establish his lordship over the living and the dead.

“The resurrection of Christ, therefore, opens up a whole new reality of existence, equivalent to the existence which Adam represents. In the event, Adam’s sin has been an existence dominated by sin and death. In contrast, the existence embodied by the resurrected Christ is one where death has expended its sting and is now stingless (1 Cor 15.54-57). Between them Adam and Christ span the whole history from ‘first’ to ‘last.’ But where the effectiveness of the first is marked by universal death, the effectiveness of the last really begins from Christ’s resurrection.“   (James Dunn, THE THEOLOGY OF PAUL THE APOSTLE, p 242)

Christ is risen!   Indeed He is risen!

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Bright Wednesday (2015)

While we know from the New Testament that not all Jews believed in the resurrection (Matthew 22:23; Acts 23:8), there is much evidence that belief in the resurrection was part of the normal prayer life of many Jews at the time of Christ. David Instone-Brewer offers a prayer from the Eighteen Benedictions Palestinian version written about 70CE:

“You are powerful, humbling the proud;

Strong, and judging the violent;

Alive forever, raising the dead;

Making wind blow and dew fall;

Sustaining the living, reviving the dead.

Like the fluttering of an eye,

Make our salvation sprout.

Blessed are you Lord, reviving the dead.”

(TRADITIONS OF THE RABBIS FROM THE ERA OF THE NEW TESTAMENT, p 98)

Christianity believes God fulfilled all of His promises and prophecies offered in the Old Testament in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Christ is risen!   Truly He is risen!

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