By Bishop Paul C. Hewett, SSC
To the bishops, clergy and laity of our Diocese, and to our sister jurisdictions, and all the faithful in Christ:
May you be partakers of heavenly gladness in your celebration of this Feast of feasts! Jesus’ Resurrection is the heart of our faith and the keynote of the Gospel, the center of history, the center of the universe, the great truth that defines all truth. To paraphrase Ignatius IV, Patriarch of Antioch (The Resurrection and Modern Man, p. 62ff), Jesus’ mighty Resurrection is the greatest fact, the greatest event, in the universe, the ultimate reality that now defines all reality, the event that contains all events. We do not attempt to define the Resurrection in terms of the world, but we define the world in terms of the Resurrection. The Resurrection bestows its meaning on everything. Through the preaching of the Cross, the cosmos is now resurrectional!
“Bringing Christ into any state of death transforms it into a state of resurrection. In Christ the world becomes Eucharist. In him we can transfigure the world by bringing it to the risen Christ, who offers resurrection to everyone and everything. It is up to Christians to show people that the cross, all the crosses of history, call upon us to advance from possession to sharing and offering, to discover the Giver through the gift, to spread heavenly gladness, the breaking of the day with no sunset, the day of the Kingdom.” (Olivier Clement, The Roots of Christian Mysticism, p. 192)
Jesus’ Resurrection gives rise to the confidence that an incredibly good God governs us and brings us to victory. Our Lady is now the Queen of Victory, the Woman clothed with the sun. God has wept with us that we may laugh with Him. In the 6th century, an undercurrent of new life in a new creation full of heavenly gladness began to erupt in a new civilization, raised out of the ashes of fallen Rome, a new civilization based on Jesus’ Death and Resurrection, and the festal gladness of the weekly Eucharist.
The apostolic proclamation is the Resurrection. Every Sunday commemorates it. Every baptism grafts another person into the dying and rising of the Lord Jesus Christ. Every Eucharist lifts us, in the Holy Spirit, to the Bridal Chamber with our risen Bridegroom. In the New Testament, everything is seen in the light of Jesus’ Resurrection. The Church Year is based on Easter Day. The Paschal Candle is the largest in the Church. In the Western Church, Jesus’ Passion and Death has been the focus in theology and liturgy. With Anglicans, and the Antiochians, the Incarnation is the focus. In the Eastern Church, it is the Resurrection. In the days to come, the Resurrection may be even more central for us all. We stake everything on the Resurrection, on the Saviour Who is risen and leads us to communion and glory, through the Cross, to the Crown, to Heaven, to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. Like the apostles, as Ignatius IV says, we are prophets of the new creation and visionaries of the risen Christ, unto Whom, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, be all honor and glory, unto endless ages of ages. Amen.