April 27, 2008
“Do you seek Jesus of Nazareth , who was crucified? He is risen; He is not here; behold the place where they laid Him!” Mark 16:6
The day before the Resurrection of our Lord, was one of great triumph for the wicked and perverted minds. They had succeeded in their mission to put to death the One, who had done nothing but sooth and heal the populace. They were happy by having silenced the Voice of the One, who stood up to the “leaders,” and would always silenced them.
It seemed, that the supernatural had given way to the natural, that is, the world of death and decay. But, even with the death of their greatest “enemy,” they “leaders” were not satisfied. They were afraid, that on the third Day His Disciples would go to the Tomb and remove the Body, and say to the people, that He is Risen. So, having requested from Pilate a proper guard, they sealed the Tomb and guarded it well.
But, the third Glorious Day dawned! The natural gave way to the supernatural. The curtain was raised, and now we view the Glory of the Resurrection beyond he grave, where death has no influence, and surely no authority.
St. John the Chrysostom, in his Catechetical Sermon heard at the midnight Resurrection Service emphasizes, “the earth received the Body, and encountered Heaven! It took what it saw, and was overcome by what it did not see!”
The Day of Anastasis is unique for all Christians. It is a Day that seals and re-affirms our faith, as St. John emphasizes in His Gospel: “This is the Victory that has won over the world--- our faith!” The Anastasis certifies, that after death, eternal Life follows! Two thousand years ago, the Hebrews believed that the Lord had come to free them from their Roman bondage. Yes, He did come to save them – not from their physical bondage, but from their burden of sin.
The Anastasis is the most glorious Day of the year! The Holy Mother’s mournful tears, are now transformed into tears of joy! Peter, having denied the Lord three times, now confesses and says: “Lord, You know that I love You!.” The doubting Thomas seeing the Lord, falls to his knees and confesses: My Lord, and my God!” All the Disciples, having seen the Lord, were now ready to follow His Command and go forth to teach all Nations, disregarding the danger of being put to death for their preaching the “new Religion!
The Anastasis should always be uppermost in our mind, in that our faith in the Lord, is our most valuable treasure. With fervent faith, our spiritual eyes have a 20/20 vision, so that we can recognize the miracles of life, and moreso that the Good Fridays always culminate with the Glorious Anastasis!.
Unfortunately, too many Christians are remote to the central meaning of the Anastasis. We are consumed by the externals, the preparation for our Paschal meal, what we shall wear to compare with our peers etc.
But, Pascha has only one central meaning and significance. It is the Glorious victory over death and sin, as a result of the Lord’s Anastasis!
It is a day of triumph, and of the promise, that we too shall be resurrected to live eternally in the Lord’s Kingdom! But, we should always be cognizant of our being prepared to meet the Lord. We must strive to galvanize our soul with fervent faith in the glory and guarantee that the Anastasis affords all of us.
So it is, that when moments of despondency, when all things look so dark, and we seem to think, that there is no way to emerge from this darkness,, we must bring to mind the empty Tomb, and to remember, that the Lord came to make all things new. In life, we face many “Good Fridays,” but we should never despair, because for the faithful Christian, there comes the Anastasis, which annihilates the agony of Good Friday. When we sense the true feeling of “Christos Anesti,” “Christ is Risen.” new horizons open up, which virtually give us renewed energy for life. These may be thoughts, but these thoughts being given spirit by substance, constitute our greatest treasure.
My prayer is for all of you, to sense to the fullest the “Christos Anesti,” so that our heart may be filled with renewed faith, and love in the Lord, and in turn amongst all of us, our beloved Family of the Ocala Greek Orthodox Mission. Amen.
“Therefore brethren stand fast and hold the traditions which ye have been taught whether by word or our epistle.” - Thessalonians 2:15