Oh, Height Unfathomable!

Paschal Epistle of His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine, 2021

    

Christ is Risen!

My warmest greetings to all: God-loving archpastors and pastors, pious monks and nuns, dear brothers and sisters, on this our greatest Christian feast, the Glorious Resurrection of our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ.

The Resurrection of Christ is an eternal Pascha, it is the Feast of feasts and the Celebration of celebrations. The Resurrection of Christ is indeed the greatest Christian holy day. St. Gregory the Theologian wrote that the Feast of the Resurrection of Christ so far surpasses all other celebrations, not only all human and temporal ones, but even the other feasts that celebrate Christ, just as the sun surpasses the stars.”1

The Resurrection of Christ is the triumph of the victory of life over death, it is the Feast of Life, and since life is the most precious gift that has been given to man, Pascha is also the greatest Feast, for in the glorious Resurrection, the Son of God, our Savior, has returned to us the eternal life that we ​​had once lost.

What a wonderful and marvelous love God has for man! Man, who had sinned and was unable to continue living in Paradise. Notwithstanding this, Divine Love descended from Heaven to Earth, to fallen man, became incarnate, and did what we sinners were supposed to do. Divine Love purified us and reconciled us with God, Who sacrificed Himself for us. Divine Love on the Cross vanquished our sins, descending with man into hell and destroying it with the radiance of Divine glory. Divine Love resurrected human nature and returned to it the Paradise lost. St. Theodore the Studite said that the Resurrection of Christ brought joy to the whole world, because through His Resurrection, Christ opened up Paradise and made it accessible to everyone. Oh, depth inconceivable! Oh, height unfathomable! Oh, the mystery … surpassing the power of the mind!”2 Diabolic malice could not comprehend God’s love for fallen man; it was only when Christ was resurrected that the devil fully realized that he was defeated, but it was too late—everything was accomplished: Hell was destroyed, the power of death was defeated, and Paradise was returned to man, and he, the crafty tempter, was tied by the bonds of hellish darkness (2 Pt. 2: 4).

This great Victory is called the Victory of life, and what is wonderful in this Victory is that God gave it to man. St. Nikolai of Serbia says that not a single earthly conqueror, tsar, or commander wants his victory to be taken from him and ascribed to another; only the Risen Lord extends His Victory to each of us with both hands and doesn’t get angry but instead rejoices when His Victory makes us victors as well.”3

How blessed were the holy Myrrh-bearing Women, who were the first to receive the news of the Resurrection of Christ. Following the tragic events of the crucifixion of their Divine Teacher, after His death and His burial, the Myrrh-bearing Women, early in the morning, came to the Life-giving Tomb.

They were confused, and their hearts were filled with deep sadness. Suddenly they felt an earthquake and saw an angel who rolled the stone away from the entrance to the Tomb and sat upon it. Seeing the fear of the holy women, the angel calmed them and said: Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, Which was crucified. He is not here: for He is risen …go quickly, and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead; and, behold, He goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see Him (Mt. 28: 5-7).

The Holy Myrrh-bearing Women understood that their Divine Teacher was the Messiah, God Who came to Earth to redeem mankind and Who rose from the dead. The Myrrh-bearers gladly announced this to the Apostles, and then the holy Apostles spread this good news throughout the world. The preaching of the Apostles of the Risen Christ changed the world. People who accepted the Risen Christ through faith began to build their lives not according to the voice of their own passions, but according to the voice of God, Who had raised the dead. In the Risen Christ, people have found the Divine wellspring of living water, which quenches spiritual thirst and flows into eternal life. In the Risen Christ, people have found Divine power that transforms a person from something bad and disfigured to something beautiful, strong and noble, which is useful both to themselves and to those around them.

During holy Paschaltide, we especially thank our Savior and Lord that He descended from Heaven for our sake and for our salvation, became incarnate, suffered and rose from the dead; for the fact that the Lord gave us the honor of believing in Him and bearing the privilege of being called a Christian. We humbly pray that the Risen Christ will give us the determination and courage to build our lives according to His holy commandments and laws, which in their essence are expressed in the two commandments of love: love for God and love for our neighbor, so that we become Christians not in name only, but also through our earthly deeds.

Once again, my warmest greetings to you all, dear brothers and sisters, on this great and glorious day of the Resurrection of Christ. I wish you all health, peace, joy and salvation. May the Risen Christ, our Savior and Lord, keep and fill you with the spiritual strength that every man yearns for, but which only God possesses; the strength necessary to overcome all of life’s difficulties, illnesses and fears with which the world is burdened today and which we encounter on life’s path during our earthly wanderings.

Because of the Holy Resurrection, let us then forgive each other, as God has forgiven us, embrace each other in love, as God has embraced us, and sing the Paschal hymn of victory: “Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life!” (Paschal Troparion). Amen.

Christ is Risen Indeed!

The humble,
Onuphry
Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine

Edited by OrthoChristian

Information-Education Department of the UOC

5/4/2021

1 Works of St. Gregory the Theologian. St. Petersburg, 1912, vol. 1. p. 662

2 Works of Theodore the Studite, Homily During Bright Week, 2011. Vol.2. p. 379

3 Conversations on the Holy Gospel. Moscow, 2018. Book 1, p. 186

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