May 16, 2023

Resurrection Messages That Are Devoid of Life's Meaning (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

Resurrection Messages That Are Devoid of Life's Meaning

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

The feast of the Resurrection of Christ, which is solemnly celebrated by the Orthodox people, gives the opportunity to ecclesiastical and political leaders to express in writing and orally their wishes to the people under their responsibility, but also to the people who belong to the Church in general.

Reading the wishes, messages of various competent people in our society, I find that they weaken the deep meaning of the Resurrection of Christ and secularize it, making it a populist message. They talk about the Risen Christ who gives optimism to man, about the creation of a new civilization that contrasts with other civilizations, about the transcendence of ethnicity and language, about the dignity of man, about social solidarity, about the overcoming of the economic crisis and religious fanaticism, for the praise of man and the defense of human rights, for social justice, for the offering of care to others, for the improvement of society and discussion, for overcoming geopolitical games and rivalries, for the light of Hellenism that defeats all darkness, etc.

Some of them have some value, when one sees the consequences of the Resurrection of Christ in the personal, family and social space, but they do not refer to the basic meaning of the Resurrection of Christ. One can wish for all these, but they cannot be basic references to the Resurrection of Christ.

Christ did not rise to create a civilization, with all human rights, nor to solve the economic and social problems of man, nor to create new morals and customs and to offer people opportunities to rest and relax with the holidays. Any religion and any religious concept does this.

According to the "witnesses of the Resurrection", Christ rose to defeat death, sin and the devil, to restore man to the state he was in Paradise before the fall, but also to raise him to another higher level, to unite him with God. Christ deified human nature from the first moment of His conception, but with His Resurrection He also cast off the mortality and corruption that He had acquired to defeat death and thus became the real "medicine of immortality" for every person who will accept Him, so that they too in Christ can defeat death, sin and the devil in their life. At the same time, with His appearances after His Resurrection, He spoke to His Disciples about the Kingdom of God, that is, about the Light of God and the partaking of the Light, and He prepared them so that on Pentecost they would receive the Holy Spirit and become members of his glorious Body.

This is how the Disciples, "the witnesses of the Resurrection", felt on the day of Pascha and from this perspective they "rejoiced seeing the Lord". Subsequently, with the power of the Resurrection, they abandoned all human rights and social achievements, acquired fearlessness in the face of death, traveled throughout the world preaching the Risen Christ and called people to repentance, finally dying a martyric death while rejoicing and glorifying God. This is clearly seen in their discourses and letters, in which there is no trace of an effort to socialize and limit the message of the Resurrection to cultural, political, social and economic levels.

The political and social leaders, ignorant of the theological message of the Resurrection, having not tasted the Orthodox ecclesiastical life, determine the Resurrection of Christ within the flat dimension of their lives. But the sad thing is when there are Clergy who speak secularly about the Resurrection of Christ and undermine its deeper meaning, either out of theological ignorance or out of a feeling that "this is what the world wants", and thus popularize it. What is even sadder is when there are - fortunately few - Clergy who ridicule those who speak of the uncreated Light of the Resurrection and generally deny the theology of the deification of man, distancing themselves from the theology of the Church.

It must be understood that Christ, with His Resurrection, defeated the devil, sin and death. These are the three great evils for man that cause him pain, enclose him in hopelessness and despair, and not the cultural, geopolitical, social and economic situations of a country. Of course, we too must deal with such issues, but the most important thing is to refer to the high meaning of the Resurrection of Christ and not to secularize the theology of the Resurrection of Christ, because then we increase the pain, the suffering, the despair of the people.

Saint Gregory Palamas writes that the devil is a trickster who tricked Adam and Eve and imprisoned them unjustly, since they were God's creations and not his. That is why Christ, with His incarnation, His death and His Resurrection, with wisdom and justice, accomplished the final defeat of the archetypal deceiver, the devil, putting the divinity as a hook under mortal flesh, and renewed His formation that He created, bringing man near to Himself again, freeing him from the tyranny of the devil.

The Resurrection of Christ has a great theological meaning and those who enclose it in moral, economic and social pursuits and make populism the occasion of the Resurrection of Christ are "criminals" before man.

Source: Ekklesiastiki Paremvasi, April 2015. Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

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