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MESSAGE OF THE MONTH
The Resurrection of Christ is the Annihilation of Death
By Protopresbyter Fr. George Metallinos, Dean of the Athens University School of Theology.
The Resurrection of Christ is the most significant event to take place in History. It is the event that differentiates Christianity from every other religion. Other religions have mortal leaders, whereas the Head of the Church is the Resurrected Christ.
Resurrection of Christ implies the deification and the resurrection of human nature, and the hope for deification and resurrection of our own hypostasis. Since the medicine has been discovered, then there is hope for life.
Through Christ’s Resurrection, both life and death take on a new meaning. “Life” now means communion with God. “Death” is no longer the end of this present lifetime, but the distancing of man from Christ. The separation of the soul from the mortal body is no longer seen as “death”; it is only a temporary slumber.
It is Christ’s Resurrection, which justifies His uniqueness and exclusiveness, as the Saviour Who is able to truly vitalize us and transfuse His death-defeating life into our perishable lives. Christ is one; the Resurrection is one; and the possibility for salvation-deification is also one. This is why our expectation to transcend all the impasses that muddle our lives is oriented towards Christ; to the Christ of the saints; to the Christ of history.
The distorted “Christ” found in heresies or the “relativized” Christ found in the religious syncretism of the new-age pan-religion constitute a rejection of the real Christ, as well as the salvation offered by Him.
The Christ of our saints is also the Christ of History, and He rules out every possibility of confusing Him with all the other redemptive substitutes invented for misleading the masses; because that is the only way deception can maintain something fraudulent: by facilitating the dominion of antichrist powers (which may quite easily have infiltrated even the Church); powers, which albeit spread death in their path, nevertheless can appear as “angels of light” and “deacons of justice.”
When studying the experience of our saints, we become aware that there are no existences as tragic as those “who have no hope”—hope for resurrection—inasmuch as they regard biological death as destruction and the end. Unfortunately, science has also succumbed to this tragic state, by desperately seeking methods for prolonging man’s lifespan and by conveying the illusion of being able to overcome natural death. However, equally tragic are those—even Christians—who become entrapped in “hermetically tight” Chiliast visions of universal bliss and mundane eschatology (thus losing the true meaning of the Resurrection) and sacrificing the hyper-cosmic to the endo-cosmic; the eternal to the transient.
The Resurrection of Christ as the resurrection of man and all of Creation acquires a meaning only in the framework of patristic soteriology; in other words, in the co-crucifixion and the co-resurrection with Christ. This is the way that Hellenism also preserved the Resurrection during its historical course. Forever faithful to the Resurrection of Christ, Orthodoxy has been characterized as “Church of the Resurrection,” because it is on the Resurrection that it structures its entire historical presence, grafting the resurrectional hope into the conscience of peoples; a fact that is revealed in their cultural continuance.
Among them, the Hellenic people also learnt to dispel—in the light of the Resurrection—the darkness that permeated their years of slavery (as was the Turkish occupation) during which, they would not hesitate, on wishing each other “Christ is Risen!” to add: “and Hellas is risen!” And they preserved this, for a full four hundred years…
It is within this notional framework that the hope-filled invitation of Come forth and receive Light! is contained. It is an invitation to the resurrectional, uncreated Light, which is bestowed only on those who have cleansed their heart of vices and passions. Without the “catharsis” of the heart—in other words, repentance—one cannot commune with the Light of the Resurrection. Repentance is the transcending of sin, the cause of our death.
This is the fact that we are constantly reminded of, by the peculiar (to the uninitiated ear) monastic saying: If you die before you die, then you will not die when you die!
Christ is Risen!