Holy Pascha (2019)

Pascha Sunday

Christ is risen!  Indeed He is risen!

In him was life, and the life was the light of men. (John 1:4)

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… to the apostles whom he had chosen. To them he presented himself alive after his passion by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days, and speaking of the kingdom of God.  (Acts 1:2-3)

While singing “Christ is risen!” can fill us with joy, the full implications of the resurrection may escape us.  Archimandrite Amilianos brings to our attention an important detail from the Acts of the Apostles:  Jesus’ resurrection means not only that he is alive, but that He is living – He has life in Himself that can never be taken away.

But it was precisely then, after the passion, that He presented Himself alive. (Acts 1:3)

If you look at this verse closely, you’ll see that Luke does not simply say that Christ presented himself “alive,” as if to say that He was merely “seen to have been alive,” or “appeared to be alive,” like everyone else. The sense is rather that He presented Himself “living.” Of course Christ is alive, and “there was never a time when he was not alive.” But here Christ’s assumption of life, His taking up of life, is an absolutely voluntary act, for no one takes My life from Me, He says, but I lay it down of My own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again; this charge I received from My Father (Jn. 10.18).

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After the passion, He presented Himself living. The life of Christ is the life given to Him by the Father after the passion. After the resurrection, therefore, the life in Christ that the apostles experienced was not simply the same life they had come to know during the days of His earthly ministry. Neither was the resurrected body of Christ simply the same body they had known, and which His enemies had slain and buried. It was a resurrected body, raised in glory, raised in power (cf. 1 Cor 15.42-45). The body that Christ assumed in His love for mankind had formerly been subject to the laws of corruption, to the laws of nature. But now those laws are of no consequence for Him. That was how He was able to enter into the upper room while the doors were closed (Jn 20.19, 26). That was a sovereign activity by which Christ, after the passion, presents Himself as living, as true and eternal life itself (cf. Jn 11.25).

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Whoever is able to accept suffering, whoever is able to die the death granted to Him by the Father, is able to participate in the true, eternal life of Christ. If he cannot, or will not do this, then his life is a living death, for whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will preserve it (Lk 17.33).

After the passion, He presented himself living.

(The Way of the Spirit, pp. 162-163)

Jesus is able to present Himself as living precisely because He is Life (John 11:25, 14:6).

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