|Byzantine Catholic Churches in America||
|Documentation: Melkite Greek Catholic Church|
|Eparch's 1999 Paschal Message|
To the clergy, laity and friends of the Melkite Eparchy of Newton:
Christ is risen! He is truly
It is a great joy for me to reflect with you on the great and powerful feast of the Resurrection of our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ from the dead. Jesus Christ is truly risen, our sins are forgiven, death is destroyed, and we are guaranteed new and eternal life. Jesus Christ is our Savior, and His glorious and life-giving Resurrection is the source and foundation of our hope as Christians.
From the tomb of the risen Lord Jesus emanate Light, Life, and Love. Jesus Christ, our risen King, is the Light of the world, and in His light we shall see light. (Psalm 35/36:10) Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, is the way and the truth and the life. (John 14:6) Our risen Lord Jesus Christ shows His love for us by washing us in His sacred Blood, and by shedding every drop of His Precious Blood to buy us back from the powers of darkness.
In a paschal homily of the early Church attributed to Saint Hippolytus, of the fourth century, the glory of the resurrection of Christ is expressed this way. "Now the holy rays of the light of Christ shine forth, the pure stars of the pure spirit rise, the heavenly treasures of glory and divinity lie open. In this splendor the long dark night has been swallowed up, and the dreary shadows of death have vanished. Life is offered to everyone; the whole world is filled with glory."
Jesus tells us in the Holy Gospel, "I am the light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." (John 8:12) We are so blessed that Jesus promised us that we will never walk in the darkness, but have the light of life. The powerful light and glory that were present at the moment of the resurrection give light, clarity, and meaning to us today and always. For, as Saint Paul says, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever." (Hebrews 13:8)
I invite all the faithful to join me, in a more intense preparation for the Millennium, to carefully read and ponder the Word of God every day, at least for a few minutes. A text from the Scriptures every day assures light and life to our way. In Psalm 118/119 we are reminded, "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in Your word. The unfolding of Your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple." (Psalm 118/119: 105, 114, 130) Empowered by the Word of God, may we be transformed by the light of the resurrection of Christ, and shine that light to all that we meet. "You are the light of the world... Let your light so shine before others, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5: 14,16)
For it is by shining the Light of Christ in our lives, Chosen People of God, that the light of Christ radiates more brightly in the world. The message of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ becomes more powerful and more believable through our lives. We become heralds of the risen Lord, beacons of resurrection light, and messengers of the Good News. Very often, we are the only Gospel a person will ever see. Let us strive to make that Gospel of our lives joyful, faithful, compassionate, and authentic.
In the Sacred Scriptures and in our liturgical prayers, we see that light and life are connected. "For with You is the fountain of life, and in Your light we shall see light." (Psalm 35/36:10 and the "Doxology") In many ways we can read these beautiful words of the psalmist in the light of the resurrection of Christ. This connection between light and life is seen also in the New Testament where Saint John writes in his prologue, "In Him [Christ, the Word] was life, and the life was the light of men [and women]. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:4-5)
Christ is risen ! We are forgiven ! Christ is risen ! We are a people of Hope. Christ "was handed over for our transgressions and was raised for our justification." (Romans 4:25) The new life that Our risen Lord and Savior gave us must translate into our actions. We are called by the resurrection of the Lord to be a people who make life-giving choices in all aspects of our life. We must always choose life and reject the sin, the relativism, the negativity, the pessimism so often proclaimed by the prince of this world and his minions. We, my brothers and sisters in Christ, can make a difference. We can change the world. The power of the Holy 'Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you' (Romans 8:11), and with that power we can overcome all struggles and work to make Jesus Christ better known and more loved in the world in which we live.
In this year consecrated to the Father by Pope John Paul II, and focusing on the virtue of Charity - the virtue of love, let us strive to allow the resurrection light of Jesus to purify us and make us holy. May we all radiate the light, the life, and the love of our risen Savior every day. Be assured of my love and my prayers. I close with this beautiful blessing from the Letter of Saint Polycarp, that great Apostolic Father of the Church.
May the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Eternal High Priest Jesus Christ Himself, the Son of God, help you to grow in faith and truth, in unfailing meekness and the avoidance of anger, in patience and long suffering, and in endurance and purity. To you and to ourselves as well, and to all those under heaven who shall one day come to believe in Our Lord Jesus Christ and in His Father Who raised Him from the dead, may He grant part and portion among His saints.
Christ is risen ! He is truly risen !
+ John Adel Elya
Dartmouth St, West Newton, MA 02465 - Tel. +1-(617) 969-8957
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Byzantine Catholic Church in America. All Rights Reserved. Last updated on 04/07/1999. http://www.byzcath.org