2007, An-Nahar, Articles

Easter Again and Again / 05.05.2007

The people of my Church still are celebrating Easter [the Passover]. What are they drunk to this extent? Why do we not say anything else? Why cannot we? In the book of Revelation 13:8 there is a reference to “the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” [KJV] And in the First Epistle of Peter 1: 20 we read that Christ “was destined before the foundation of the world”. As we compare the texts it becomes clear that He was destined before the foundation of the world to be crucified, regardless of God’s foreknowledge of the human sin. Saint Maximus the Confessor has known that the Lord would descend to the earth regardless whether the human being sins or not, in both cases this is a death of love. Our creation, salvation, preservation and our participation in Christ’s resurrection, all this is the outcome of divine love. And this is the feast in all its aspects.

That is why the Master said: “Now is the Son of man glorified, and in him God is glorified.” (John 13: 31) It is clear that the glory of God has resided in the body and the shed blood of Christ. That is to say that God’s sublimity, majesty, power and God’s inclination toward us all are realized in humanity’s slaying of the Son, since nothing of God would be truly revealed and in depth, unless Godself has shown it in the love poured for the humanity.

When those who do not believe in this ask us: Why is this sacrifice? Was not God able to address God’s love in a speech, without having to embody it in this way? Yes, it would be possible, but God has chosen to do this. And after our knowledge of incarnation we have come to understand this divine choice. God has opted to reveal God’s nearness in this way. This was God’s eternal choice as the New Testament says. What do you have against God if God has made God’s Son a human so that we might see Him in pure acts, as He eats and drinks and shares us the death, and hence, becomes no stranger to any of our conditions, other than sin?

God was not in need to present God’s Son as blood expiation. This interpretation was heard of interpreters who did not belong to [our] tradition. The blood of Jesus does not concern us except as the way to the new life. Our concern in relation to this sacrifice is about understanding Godhead as it is been poured in the sphere of death through the body of Jesus, so that the human being might be freed by his/[her] love of the crucified and the risen from the dead. On Good Friday, in which we inaugurate the Easter [the Passover], we do not merely manifest the cross but the descent from the cross. And our devotions on this Friday in particular are resurrectionist, in which there is no trace of grief. We do not wail upon Christ and we do not worry emotionally about the injustice that has followed Him. Through His suffering we are drawn to that which the Book calls our Easter [the Passover], namely to the victorious Christ. Jesus is Himself life before we proclaim victory on the third day.

Thus, we are not a religion of pain and we do not take pleasure of it as of sickness or suffering. For Eastern Christianity it does not mean a thing that the human being is hurt in his/[her] body. We do not console him/[her] as partaking the sufferings of his/[her] Lord. This [notion] is not present in the New Testament. Yes, Paul has spoken a lot on partaking in the sufferings; however he meant only two things. First, we die with the Lord through baptism, and second that we become His partners whenever we endeavor to kill the desires within us. This enjoyment of sickness, the desire for pain or to remain in it and also the desire for death is of Masochism. While Christ is the Master of life and its giver, and part of His ministry – as He was alive – was to heal the diseases of minds and bodies, and also of sin. The Gospels have devoted many pages to this element and considered it an evangelizing for the Kingdom of Heaven.

If you get sick you turn to God for healing and not for the permanence of sickness in you. The Kingdom is the end of all pains and you have to strive for the Kingdom from now, namely you have to pray, and ask the priests to anoint you with oil, and call the doctor for treatment.

Hence, we are with the living Christ. What matters is that we do not become from His killers. It is a shame to be of people who have assaulted God, as Jews and ancient Romans did. Christ accepts our injuries and forgives, however, as we have become pigmented (baptized) with Christ, how could we become betrayers? God endures our treacheries and raises us from them whenever we become of those who repent. And if Judah was an image of the ultimate treason, he had hanged himself before the death of Christ, and descended to hell, and when Christ has descended to hell by His death He has rescued him as He has rescued all fallen human race and the righteous ones. The icon of resurrection at our Church presents the Lord in white garment in the kingdom of death, rescuing from there Adam and Eve and all their offspring, in order that no one remains the slave of death or the slave of sin. And whenever we understand the ability of Christ to save us, no one sets a crown of thorns on His forehead anew, or beats Him with a reed; no one nails His hands and feet or pierces Him with a spear. Some Christians pierce Christ as though they do not believe in His redemption.

Nevertheless, since His crucifixion He has gathered all remnants of humanity and He still is gathering them, the prostitutes, the tax collectors and others. He brings sight back to those who are blind spiritually, whenever they accept Him. You might carry His name and yet depart Him, thus, remember and do not forget that you might become like the Jews and the Romans of that day. Do not kiss Him with deceit, as Judah did, since He kisses you with His lips in order to reveal to you that you are still His beloved. Do not pretend loyalty to Him since you are unable to deceit Him. And as He came in to the disciples while the doors closed, He will come in to you, even when you reject Him. He will knock the door of your heart and have dinner with you, and you will have dinner with Him, since He has embraced you to Himself before your mother gave birth to you. He will take you to His chest as He did with the beloved disciple at the Last Supper, and He will call you with your name as He called Mary the Magdalene in the garden after the resurrection, and she recognized Him.

Many things in your life obscure your eyes from perceiving Christ. This vision is essential for you to live. You will not live by your money, power, authority, beauty and mind. I do not deny the charm of all this. However, Christ’s ability to fascinate you is much greater. Do not waste your time with whatever is inferior to that, since Christ has become your Easter [the Passover], that is your passage to the Father. And if you want to ascend with Christ to the Father, He seats you on His throne from now on, namely before your resurrection occurs. And after resurrection, you sit with all those who were good on earth, regardless whether they have known His name or not, since He is the source of the spiritual sublimity within them.

And if we celebrate Easter [the Passover], and we continue to exist in the blessings of Christ, it is not because we assume complete control of them and not because we are the best people. We are [united] with all people in one brotherhood. Every human being in this world shall rise from his/[her] sins whenever he/[she] becomes of those who repent. We are not a distinguished group in humanity, since Christ has come to bring the good news that all human beings belong to the family of His Father, whenever they want this through the good work.

As to us, we know that He is “the way, the truth and the life” [John 14: 6], but we also know that those who love God, from wherever they come, are our partners in the glory, and that we are not privileged than others by flesh and blood. Rather, He has chosen us as His followers so that we might know Him as He unveiled Himself to us in the books. And He has His ways to reveal Himself to the holy ones in every nation. And He does not distinguish among us and others in His love.

In this world there are different teachings [dogmas] and every one of us has a brother/[sister] in faith. But our love is one to all people, including those who doubt. We, with those who worship God and those who worship themselves, we are all the children of one God, who chooses whoever God wants, and we do not call God to account for God’s choice. Your Lord judges every person according to his/[her] heart, and He revivifies the dry hearts, and dwells in every human heart which has become tender.

This is the Last Easter, and it is an emersion upon the joy of heaven.

Translated by Sylvie Avakian-Maamarbashi

Original Text: “الفصح أيضًا وأيضًا” –An Nahar- 05.05.2007

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