My beloved brothers and sisters in Our Risen God and Savior Jesus Christ,
CHRIST IS RISEN! TRULY HE IS RISEN!
RESURRECTION and TRANSFIGURATION
The RESURRECTION is, according to Christian belief, not only the crowning of Christ’s whole work and earthly life, it is not only the great proof, the testimony given by God, it is more than that: IT IS THE VERY CENTER AND THE VERY ESSENCE OF THE CHRISTIAN GOSPEL. IT IS THE BEGINNING OF A NEW LIFE, OF A NEW REALITY, OR RATHER THE INRUSH, THE REVELATION OF LIFE ETERNAL. Life Eternal entered into the texture of our life and manifested itself therein and CONQUERED DEATH. The new Reality reveals itself AS A TRANSFIGURING POWER. If we listen to the Gospel narratives concerning the apparitions of the Risen One, we cannot but notice that we have to do here with glimpses OF A HIGHER PLANE OF LIFE which is only adumbrated, which cannot be fully apprehended by us. It is not a phantasmagoria, not a vision; it is concrete, NOT AN ABSTRACTION, NOT AN IDEA; IT IS A HIGHER REALITY. He eats before them; He invites Thomas to touch Him; He is recognized by the two Disciples in the breaking of the bread. Not a phantom, not a ghost is speaking to them–He Himself emphasizes that. IT IS A CONCRETE, LIVING Person: the Beloved Master. And yet a change has taken place. We breathe in those passages–even more than in other passages of the Gospel–the air of Life Eternal: of the Life that has TRIUMPHED OVER DEATH, an air of enhanced Reality, mighty, earnest, and peaceful. In John 20:19-28, we read:
"Then the same day at evening, being the first day of
week, when the doors were shut where the disciples
were assembled for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and
stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto
you. And when He has said, He showed unto them His
hands and His side. Then were the disciples glad,
when they saw the Lord.
Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as
my Father hath sent Me, even so send I you. And when
He had said this, He breathed on them, and saith unto
them, Receive ye the Holy Spirit: Whosoever sins ye
remit, they are remitted unto them; and whosoever sins
ye retain, they are retained…
And after eight days again His disciples were within and
Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being
shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto
you. Then saith He to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger,
and behold My hands; and reach hither thy hand, and
thrust it into My side: and be not faithless, but believing.
And Thomas answered and said unto Him, My Lord and
It is a new atmosphere of triumphant Life Eternal, not an abstraction, not a denial, but–as we said clearly–AN ENHANCEMENT, YEA, A TRANSFIGURATION OF EARTHLY LIFE, THAT HAS ALREADY BEGUN IN THE Person of Christ.
This reality of the Resurrection, this New Life of the Risen One, is the basis on which Christianity rose. It is so, both historically and essentially. They had all fled; Peter had denied Him thrice: only the Mother and the disciple "whom Jesu loved" and some pious compassionate women stood by the foot of the Cross. They were in deep discouragement and depression; they did not believe the women who first brought the news of the Resurrection: they sit behind locked doors "out of fear of the Jews." These disheartened and mourning men were utterly unable to propagate a new religion, to proclaim the victory of Life Eternal. Something must have taken place that changed totally their whole attitude towards life and their whole surrounding, something that inspired them with overwhelming joyous certainty. It was "THEIR ENCOUNTER" with the Risen One, and their being taken hold of by the streams of Life Eternal revealed in Him and coming forth from Him. The central theme of Christian preaching is–RESURRECTION. We know it from Acts, we know it from early Christian prayers, we know it from Saint Paul’s Epistles.
Something new has stepped in and has changed the whole outlook. This is what explains this tone of unrivaled joy and certainly, THIS TONE OF VICTORY THA PERMEATS THE WHOLE. "THIS IS THE VICTORY THAT HAS VANQUISHED THE WORLD–EVEN OUT FAITH." Not words, but a reality, decisive, conquering, and overwhelming. Here we touch the vital nerve of the Christian Message, of the Christian Witness. They don’t preach any theories, be philosophical, moral, or mystical. They BEAR WITNESS TO A FACT. That is why they are preaching: "WE CANNOT BUT BEAR WITNESS OF WHAT WE HAVE HEARD AND SEEN." And this fact is: VICTORY OF LIFE ETERNAL, VICTORY OVER DEATH, THE RESURRECTION. A glimpse is given of what Life Eternal really is–and that is the Risen Life of Christ. A new process OF REGENERATION and REHABILITATION has been started, which will continue UNTIL ALL BE SAVED, REDEEMED, ENGULFED IN LIFE ETERNAL. The WHOLE CREATION WILL BE THEREFORE FREED FROM THE BONDAGE OF CORRUPTION INTO THE FREEDOM AND GLORY OF THE CHILDREN OF GOD. The "eternal burden of glory" is already working IN US AND IS TRANSFORMING, TRANSFIGURING US.
RESURRECTION means TRANSFIGURATION, essential decisive Transfiguration. And Transfiguration is the DISTANT GOAL, THE DISTANT VISION, AND DREAM TO WHICH MANKIND TENDS. But here the dream has become reality, the distant goal entered history and became THE NEW CREATIVE CENTER OF HISTORY. The Resurrection, the breaking through OF THE VICTORIOUS REALITY OF LIFE ETERNAL, IS THE REAL EVENT THAT FULFILLED THE DREAMS AND VISIONS OF MANKIND…
"In the Mystery (Sacrament) of the Eucharist, we have an anticipation, a short glimpse of the future glory. The heavenly place, the higher reality is brought near to us in this sacrament of the Lord’s Mystical Supper. The center thereof IS BOTH THE COMING OF THE GLORIFIED LORD TO HIS FAITHFUL AND THE "PROCLAIMING" OF HIS DEATH AND HIS SACRIFICE. We live again His Sacrifice that has been offered for us, ONCE AND FOR ALL TIMES ON EARTH, on the Mount of Golgotha, and that is being offered by Him essentially on the Heavenly Altar is continuous intercession for us before the Father…
"…The Liturgy is a piece of heavenly experience, of the heavenly reality present here among us. At the same time it is rooted in history, it is historical reality–and glory, a contemplation of transfigured history and of the Eternal household of God.
The Church is uplifted to these heights–to the contemplation of the Eternal Sacrifice of the Lamb and at the same time of His historical death and historical Self-Dedication for us. Here history and Eternity blend together. And so the Lord that comes to His faithful is the Lord Who comes willingly to be sacrificed.
Not the Eucharistic sacrifice alone, but the WHOLE CHURCH IS A LIVING SACRAMENT in which history and Divine Presence, concrete historical fact-as basis and CONTENT of the Good Tidings-and the Divine Life, the life of the Spirit that is permeating the whole Bod. are united in ONE stream. And this stream stretches forward to the future fulness of revelation. The Church fights her way. She must be cleansed, she must grow-"TO THE FULL MEASURE OF THE STATUTE OF CHRIST." In her, the bodily, the earthly, the creaturely must be sacrificed by the force of the Spirit. [Source: Revelation of Life Eternal by Nicholas Arseniev]
"Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostomos
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With sincere agape In Our Savior’s Resurrection,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God
+ Father George