The Grace of the Resurrection
By the grace of God Archbishop of Australia
To all the Clergy and devout faithful
of our Greek Orthodox Archdiocese
Brother Concelebrants and light-filled children of the Church,
Again this year, we have worshipfully struggled together in the Arena of Great Lent for our ‘purification’ (to the degree and manner afforded us by the mercy of God), in order that we might celebrate prayerfully the Services of the Holy Passion and the Resurrection of Christ.
And we know, of course, that both our ‘preparation’ for, and our ‘contentment’ in, the RESURRECTION are gifts of God which we could never have anticipated, especially after our wilful rebellion and fall.
However, precisely because of this, we feel the need not to observe silence, as this unexpected miracle demands of us. We accept unreservedly the salvific exhortation of that unsurpassable theologian of the Church, St Gregory of Nazianzus, who summons us emphatically: “Honour the mystery in silence!”
Yet, the self-understood ‘silence’ on our behalf, in light of the mystery generally - especially the mystery of the Resurrection - does not absolutely preclude our pious contemplation within the ‘already established bounds’, i.e. within the boundaries of the divinely-etched Tradition of the People of God.
Within these boundaries we dare here, today, to focus our attention on a Psalm of David which, although we have often heard it articulated in Church, perhaps has an ‘interpretation’ that has not engaged us as much as it should have.
We refer to the most acute and unreserved cry of the Prophet, King David, which in no way causes us to panic, as a ‘thunderbolt in a clear sky’. Rather, it enlivens us, as through an ‘awakening trumpet call’, to observe a pan-human alertness for salvation. In any case, no one is oblivious to the fact that at this hour, we are facing a ‘deep’ and ‘moonless’ night – the entire human race.
Here then is the astounding verse of David’s Psalm:
"Arise, O Lord, my God,
Lift up Your hand!
And do not forget your poor." (Ps. 10:12)
Through the three-fold structure of this divinely activated verse is expressed the certainty of the Prophet that the grace of the Resurrection constitutes the only stable reality of the presence of God in which the faithful person can find direct support in the midst of all the afflictions of a decaying world.
It is precisely this immediacy of His presence which is expressed in ‘humanly portrayed’ images appealing to God to ‘rise’ from His throne and to ‘lift up His hand’, in order to protect His people who find themselves in a ‘journey of worship’ on earth.
“Arise, O Lord, my God,
Lift up Your hand”!
These two appeals to God - “Arise” and “Lift” – clearly indicate that Anastasis (Resurrection) literally means ‘UP-RISING’, ‘UP-LIFTING’.
But ‘ELEVATION’ of the “hand of God” also means a dynamic intervention of the Almighty, as the sole expression of one who is Just and Good, for the unassailable protection of His people’s journey on earth.
Consequently, the Resurrection of the God-Man Christ which constitutes the foreshadowing of our own ‘elevation’, does not mean the avoidance of the eventual decomposition of the material elements of our perishable body.
The foremost and greatest gift secured for us by the Resurrection of the God-Man, is the verification of the decisive triumph of the divine will.
Just as in the ‘Lord’s prayer’ we were taught:
“…Your kingdom come
Your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven…”
in the same way, the Resurrection of our perishable body does not refer only to the ‘end of the ages’, which is called the ‘last day’.
It is also arrayed in gratitude ‘by way of foretaste’ against all the un-certainties of the present world.
For this reason precisely, in the third part of the Davidic verse the Prophet, whilst acknowledging that we are all “poor”, does not omit to call upon the mercy of God for im-perishability and im-mortality.
This Mercy of eternity is witnessed by the Psalmist’s cry:
“Do not forget your poor”!
Just as God did not forget the thief on the Cross who said “Remember me Lord when you come in Your kingdom”, let us pray that all who have hoped in the Mercy of God (those before Christ and those after Christ), will not be deprived of the ‘grace of the Resurrection’. Amen!
With fervent prayers in the Risen Christ
Archbishop S T Y L I A N O S
Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in Australia
Translation by FSS