OF HIS EMINENCE METROPOLITAN NEKTARIOS
OF HONG KONG AND SOUTHEAST ASIA
To the Reverend Priests and Deacons, the Monks and Nuns,
the Members of the Parishes
of the Orthodox Metropolitanate of Hong Kong and Southeast Asia
and the entire Orthodox Family in South East Asia
HOLY PASCHA 2011
The word Pascha is a Hebrew word meaning Passover. In the Old Testament, the word was used to signify the crossing of the Red Sea by the Jews and their miraculous salvation from their persecutor Pharaoh. In the New Testament, Pascha, is the name for the feast of the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ and His victorious passage from death unto life.
Christian Pascha, the Resurrection of Christ, has a particular importance for all people, and this is why it is the central message of the church and a cause for joy and celebration.
The fact of Christ’s Resurrection also provides the answer to the question of why evil, sorrows, pain and death are found in the world.
Evil, death, and everything that wounds us were not created by God. All these things were caused by us, and we are the ones who perpetuate them by making bad use of the freedom that God has given to us.
If today there are children who die from hunger, this is not God’s doing. It is our fault, for we do not wish to sacrifice our comfortable lives, and we prefer to bury various kinds of food to prevent prices from falling and to generate higher profits.
If today there are poor and homeless people, this is not God’s doing. It is our fault—instead of helping those in need we prefer to gamble our money on the Stock Exchange.
If today there are wars, this is not God’s doing. It is our fault, with our insatiable avarice.
If today people suffer from loneliness and depression, this is not God’s doing. It is our fault, for we live egotistical lives and do not wish to open our hearts and draw near to our fellow human beings.
If today the natural environment is being destroyed, this is not God’s doing. It is our fault, for we destroy everything thoughtlessly for our own financial interest.
The Resurrection of Christ comes to show us how much evil we have done to ourselves and to the whole of creation by distancing ourselves from God and attaching ourselves to sinful passions. We boast of our achievements, but the tragic truth is that we have ended up slaves to our egoism and avarice. What we call life is in fact a kind of death. We want to escape from this dark reality that we have created, but we cannot find a way out. Christ offers us the solution through his Resurrection. The Resurrection is the true life. It is the passing from death, that reigns here in this world, to the life of the love of the Triune God. The Resurrection is not only the continuation of existence after death, but it offers us something more than this: the possibility to partake of the way of life of the Holy Trinity and to have a direct relationship with God. The continuation of a way of life that has death at its heart is a terrible and terrifying prospect, since it does not free us from necessity and suffering. Christ Resurrected is a truly free person. And because he is not just a man but the God-man he can offer us a “new life”.
Within the Church, which is the mystical resurrected Body of Christ, we experience daily this passing from death to true life. It is not something that we expect to come in the future, but it is among and with us right now and right here. A countless number of people have entered the Church with their sins and their passions, and have managed through the grace of the Resurrected Christ to become saints. That is, to become truly free people, friends of God. This wondrous fact shows us that Christianity is not a philosophical idea, or an organization, but a way of life. It is the life of the Resurrection. It is the life of love and freedom.
Beloved brothers and sisters,
On the night of the Resurrection, we will receive reverently the blessed light from the priest. We will light our candles and hold them joyfully until the end of the Divine Liturgy of the Resurrection. This blessed light symbolizes our own journey, our own passing from the death of our sinful lives to the true life of the love of the Resurrected Christ. This blessed light reminds us that it is not possible for us to ally ourselves with the evil and injustice that dominate in this world. We must make our lives full of light through the keeping of God’s commandments, and with this light enlighten the world. Let us not be afraid. Christ has already conquered death. And this victory can also become our own victory if we entrust ourselves and our lives to His all-powerful hands.
Receive the light of Christ and place it in your hearts. Do not let it go out. This light will guide you safely on your spiritual journey. This spiritual light will be your comforter, and a powerful spiritual weapon in the face of sorrow, pain, and the tribulations of life.
May the Resurrected Christ bless you and your families.
With my warmest Paschal wishes and love in the Risen Christ
Metropolitan of Hong Kong and Southeast Asia