By the grace of God Archbishop of Australia
To all the Clergy and devout faithful
of our Greek Orthodox Archdiocese
Brother Concelebrants and beloved children in the Risen Lord,
As every year, following the sorrow of Great Lent and the pain of Holy Week, the Resurrection is once again much more than a mere expectation. It is something ‘acquired’ from above. It is freely given, as a reward for the purification that we have undergone.
Let no one lament his own poverty
for the shared kingdom is made manifest to all
is the exclamation of St John Chrysostom throughout the ages.
So ‘poverty’ and ‘kingdom’ are the two extreme boundary marks of human life.
And while in the normal ‘order’ of the fallen world, poverty would seem to be the opposite of the kingdom, in the new order and life revealed by the God-Man Christ, poverty in fact leads, as a matter of consequence, to the kingdom!
The way in which the kingdom was realized among people, through the boundless love of God in the Person of Jesus Christ, is the only power which performs miracles, like the "Lamb that was slaughtered" (Rev. 5:12), the utter poverty which enriches and overcomes the world.
It is a kingdom which is no doubt unknown and unintelligible to the world. Yet it is not foreign, nor is it opposed to the world. For it aims towards the entire world.
Christ of course stated concerning this that "my kingdom is not of this world" (John 18:36), yet He did not proclaim it as something that can be monopolized by one person, to the exclusion of all others. On the contrary, it is "the kingdom of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit".
While all three Persons of the Holy Trinity equally participate and enjoy it as a shared blessedness, it is not fragmented. It is not divided. It is not diminished. It is the ‘common kingdom’, and for this reason it always remains whole and inexhaustible. It is the ‘blessed kingdom’.
This is the kingdom promised by Christ to all those who would be tormented in this life, so that eventually truth will prevail here, rather than deception. Peace and justice, instead of injustice. A shared kingdom, instead of discord:
"Come, you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom
prepared for you from the foundation of the world" (Mat. 25:34)
However, the vision of a ‘shared kingdom’ is sometimes unfortunately not accepted even by the ‘sons of the kingdom’! This is what St John declares directly:
"He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right
to become children of God" (John 1:11-12)
It is disappointing to think – and even more bitter for one to say and write - that the stigma of ‘self-love’ continues to be the strongest instinct in human nature, even after Baptism! That is to say, even within the ‘fold of sheep’, which is the Church!
As if the people of God had not preached for all of humanity!
As if they had not given their lives for the sake of truth and justice throughout the world!
As if the only Sinless One was not crucified for all people!
We see that the deeper essence of ‘self-love’ radically excludes the ‘love for each other’. Not to mention giving one’s very self for the sake of the Other.
The centripetal force of self-love which forms and maintains the ego closed in its ‘isolation’- if not hostility - towards the Other, cannot see the centrifugal power of Love, except as the antithesis and contradiction of the meaning of life, and thus as acute irrationality.
Yet the only giver of life is also the only One who knows how that life becomes immortal.
Since "all things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made" (John 1:3), He alone is entitled to teach us also what is in the true interests of the human person. Those unheard of and unbelievable words of eternal life:
"whoever desires to save his life will lose it" (Mat. 16:25)
Precisely on this tragic point, life meets death in a head-on collision.
And we are saved from this death – which has nothing to do with our material substance, nor therefore with biological death – only through the word and wisdom of the Cross.
This is where the Apostle Paul sees humanity being separated in the most bitter manner, between those who acknowledge the power of Love and sacrifice (whom he calls the "saved"), and those on the other hand who mock the power of the Cross as "foolishness" (whom he pities by describing them as "perishing" cf. 1 Cor. 1:18).
May God enable us – through the intercessions of the Mother of our Lord and all the Saints – to never forget or reject the power of Love and the value of sacrifice!
To our Lord and God who was Elevated on the Cross, and Rose for us and all people, be the glory and honour and worship to all ages. Amen.
With fervent prayers in the Risen Christ
Archbishop S T Y L I A N O S