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Holy Pascha, 2004


By the Grace of God, Archbishop of Constantinople,
New Rome, and Ecumenical Patriarch
To the plenitude of the Church
Grace, Peace, and Mercy
From Christ the Saviour, Risen in Glory

Brother concelebrants and pious, God-loving children of the Church,

Christ is Risen!

As we greet you, dear beloved, with this Paschal exclamation, we reminisce about the philanthropic action of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Logos of God, through Whom everything was created, to offer life to mankind. We also think of the cruel pursuit of the devil, and of the people who have been misled by the devil, having become his instruments in trying to deprive humankind of the great and sacred gift of life.

The sacred gift of life is intended by God to bring joy. The mouth of the Myrrh bearers was filled with joy as they cried, "Christ is Risen", says the sacred hymnist. Ever since, thousands of people cry, "Christ is Risen" and the hearts of innumerable devout Christians fill with joy in repeating the announcement "Christ is Risen", for all of us value life as one of God's greatest gifts to humanity. It is a valuable gift through which we can enjoy all of the other divine gifts, for without the gift of life we cannot have any awareness of the other gifts God offered to us.

The source of life and joy is Christ, beloved brothers and children, and He invites us all to become participants of His divine gifts. He does invite not only us, the Orthodox Christians, but also every single person. Every human being is invited to partake in the fullness of a joyful life. God created human beings so that they might live joyfully; He intended for us to constitute adornments of the material and spiritual universe. He gave each person the opportunity to enjoy all creation; that would become possible, of course, if people showed respect for one another, and, moreover, if they loved God and the other beings. The observance of this commandment leads to a harmonious society of people, which is surrounded by the whole creation, in service of humanity, and is based on freedom, which is the foundation of love. Our feeling of this love, which is based on our free will, reveals the ineffable beauty of the face of the Lord, the most desired one, as the holy Church Fathers say, and, also, the face of the beloved human person. The human face reflects and depicts the divine and supreme beauty of God's face, for it was created in His image and likeness.

The faithful Christian, and every human being, must himself feel the opportunity to experience and cherish life, and recognize this right in all others, as well. Unfortunately, though, the devil hated human life and turned murderous, and implanted the idea of homicide in the human race. The devil persuaded Cain in killing his brother and becoming the first fratricide. Since then, many fellow human beings hate, by imitation of the devil, the life of others. As a result, throughout the history of humankind, myriads of human beings have been deprived of the blessings of life and joy, due to murderous and invidious acts committed by other human beings. This goes on until today. But, Christ was risen to offer us life and abundance of life. Therefore, it is inconceivable for a Christian or anyone else who loves his own life and respects God, to want or commit a murder or to cause pain to others. The killing of people, and moreover the indiscriminate killing of innocent people, non-participating in war conflicts, is an inhuman, condemnable and non-heroic act. Likewise, every selfish act that causes pain to some people in order to satisfy others is also condemnable.

As has always been the case, this year's celebration of the Resurrection of Christ follows the same predicament; it is clouded by a multitude of grave incidents. We hear about many group homicides and other hurtful acts committed by people against people. Christ, Who is the Way and the Resurrection and Life and Who lived an earthly life of doing good and healing, shows to all people the way of love and giving, of justice and respect of life and joy of others, as the single way, which leads humanity to true joy and fullness of life. Christ resisted His persecution and death through forgiveness, love, good deeds, sacrifice and resurrection. He proved that the power of evil, despite its fierce aspiration to kill the leader of life, failed. And He persuades us that in our days the powers of evil will be again defeated by the greater power of love, which is the only way leading to resurrection.

Thus, brothers and children in the Lord, we should not fear in the face of evil that seems to prevail. At the end, our Risen Lord Jesus Christ will be the victorious winner along with the people who believe in His resurrection. But our win will not be against our fellow human beings, but against evil, for we Christians want all people to partake in this victory so that none will be defeated by evil or lose the earthly, and most importantly, the eternal life.

Thus, we greet all of you, beloved, with the Paschal greeting "Christ is Risen", and pray that you will travel the road of Holy Pascha in the joy of Resurrection. We pray also that through your pious life you will contribute to the propagation of the spirit of altruism and will inspire others to respect the life and the joy of their fellow human beings, so that good will prevail over evil and the leader of life, our Risen Lord Jesus Christ, will reign in your hearts. Amen.

Holy Pascha 2004
Patriarch of Constantinople
fervent intercessor of all before the Risen Christ
Protocol 247

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