26 April 2011

On the Goodness and Mercy of God

The Paschal season is one of great joy. It seems almost scandalous, I suppose, to be truly joyful in the world today. There is so much suffering, so much tragedy, so much death; to be joyful in such circumstances must seem...wrong, I suppose, to many. But the joy of the Orthodox Christian on the blessed and holy Pascha of the Lord is the joy that is born of the absolute deep abyss of suffering, the suffering of the Passion of Our Lord and God and Savior, Jesus Christ, during Holy Week. It is born from the depth of our own sufferings in this life, as well. Heaven cannot be attained but by the cross--and Christ tells us all, if we would have salvation, to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him. He has released us from the suffering of death, the eternal suffering; but to get there, we must suffer with Him in this life. We must die with Him, to the world, and so win the everlasting crown.

People do not want to do this. It is hard. I, myself, know this very well. But it is the only thing worthwhile, the one thing needful. There is no God but Christ, and Him crucified. When we sing on Great and Holy Friday "We worship Thy passion, O Christ" who can fail to understand the meaning? The adoration of Christ as God is revealed to us in the agony of the Cross--and the end of that line of chant "Show us also Thy resurrection" confirms the Great Mystery: the suffering of the cross leads to life eternal. This Bright Week, when all tears and lamentations are gone away, is the foretaste of the life of the age to come, for those who believe--for those who have suffered with Christ and are now getting only the tiniest hint of the joy to come.

But even that tiny hint is greater than all the fleeting, momentary enjoyment known by the world.

So let us keep the Feast, dear brothers, and remember the goodness and mercy of God, who allows us to suffer that we might also be partakers of His own very life in the age to come.

Christ is risen!