Protopresbyter Vitaly Borovoy

When you and I celebrate Paschal Services, we all feel a surge of joy and gladness.  When we say, "Christ is Risen!" and answer "Truly He is Risen!" There resounds in our voices not only faith, not only affirmation that this is so; there resounds joy and exultation.  And all of our chants, our entire service, all of our prayers are filled with joy, merriment and rejoicing.  Actually, this is not a service, but a celebration.

...Christ's Resurrection is the foundation of our entire life, of all of our hopes and our common faith in Him, and it is the foundation of hope for all mankind.  For, as the Apostle said, "…if Christ be not Risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain." All that we say regarding the Lord, all that we affirm about him, all in which we hope, all about which we pray, all is in vain if Christ be not Risen.

The fact of Christ's Resurrection from the dead is of course an unusual event, a miracle, but it is not in that fact that lies its greatness, and it is not that miracle that is the reason for our rejoicing.  God is ever capable of working incredible miracles.  The cause of our rejoicing and hope lies in the fact that Christ the Only-begotten rose from the dead, Christ was Risen so that we might have life eternal.  Christ was Risen so that after their corruption and death people might also be risen into life eternal.

That joy, that gladness should be exemplary joy and gladness.  As we say, Christianity is love, not love in general, not some illusory, sentimental, love towards all.  When we say that God is Love, we thereby affirm that He loves the human race.  When we say that we must have love, we thereby affirm that our love must be concrete and specific, exemplary, and must be actively expressed in our human interactions.  The Apostle said, "If a man say that I love God, and hateth his brother (i.e. not only his brother by blood, but any other person), he is a liar. " How can you love God, Whom you do not see, and not love your brother, whom you can see?  Thus, love is an active, and absolutely concrete and specific love.  We must have love for all who are near to us, those whom we encounter, those who have dealings with us; we cannot have love for something remote and incomprehensible e.g. we cannot say "I love God, the human race, people, but I hate this particular person." That is not love.

The same applies to joy.  Joy is not merely the rejoicing and gladness in a person's soul, exultation for the sake of exultation, rejoicing for the sake of rejoicing, rejoicing for its own sake.  No.  Joy and gladness, jubilation, is the expression of our joy over and on account of Christ's Resurrection.  However, it is an expression that is outwardly displayed, for when someone is glad and rejoices, he is incapable of containing that joy. If you really rejoice over something, just try to suppress it, to keep it within and not show it. That is impossible.  It is easier to suppress our enmity and keep it to ourselves.  Joy is revealed and displayed, jubilation pours out of us, and is directed at something.  Joy cannot be a selfish or jealous, egotistical joy. To say "I rejoice that I feel good, I rejoice because Christ is Risen and I will be resurrected and be saved,"is not true rejoicing.  Rather, I rejoice because all of us, all of you, all of my relatives and friends, all of my neighbors, all of my enemies, all who do not love me, all will benefit.  Christ suffered and died for everyone, Christ was Risen for everyone, and the joy I experience in His Resurrection is not something to do with me alone, to my personal salvation,  to my benefit and success, but is pertinent to the joy, salvation, and happiness of all people, even those whom I perhaps do not like. Thus, Paschal joy, joy over the Resurrection of Christ, Christian joy, is always an active joy, a communal joy, and is always joy not for oneself  but for all of us. 

Beloved brothers and sisters, when we now happily, joyously sing together our marvelous Paschal canon, as it were dancing with Paschal joy, and when we cense, we move quickly, as an expression of our joy. Let us remember that that joy does not belong to us alone, but to all people. Our joy will not be true joy until we not only joyously celebrate, but in our celebration also help others to celebrate and rejoice, and to know Christ's Resurrection and the power of the joy of Christ's Pascha.

That is what we need as we rejoice with Paschal joy.

Christ is Risen!

(This homily, which has been somewhat abridged, was originally published in the anthologyTo Be a Witness to Christ (issued by the St Sergius Brotherhood), and later in the newspaper KIFA  №6(96), April 2009)

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