The Spiritual Feast of the Resurrection

The Entombment of Christ, Guercino, 1656, Oil on canvas (Art Institute, Chicago/Public Domain)

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

This week, we are celebrating the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ: the feast of the fulfillment of prophecies and promises; the feast of the eternal dawn of faith and hope; the feast of the undeniable and unchallengeable victory of life over death.

The road toward this universal celebration of faith, hope and life was paved, as our Lord Jesus Christ Himself predicted, with His passion, crucifixion and entombment (Matthew 16:21). 

Have you ever questioned yourself or your pastor, why we call the Friday preceding Easter, a day of deepest sorrow and lament, disappointment and frustration, insecurity and uncertainty, “Good Friday”? Actually all these and more are valid questions, but from the human perspective only. Yes, that Friday seemed to be the end of a new era of goodness and of peace. That Friday seemed to be the day when the dream of the evil power became true: that “I will ascend to the tops of the clouds / I will make myself like the Most High” (Isaiah 14:14). This is, however, from the human perspective only. From the Divine perspective, everything was running according to His plan of redemption. As God says, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways” (Isaiah 55:8). Unlike what those who cling to the human perspective believe, God reminds us that, “My power,” His Power, “is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). Therefore, that Friday was a good Friday, and every year we have a Good Friday, because it is the day that heralded the resurrection and manifested the absolute truth that the final verdict belongs to God, who said, “Let there be light, and there was light.” It is indeed Good Friday for it ushered in the resurrection, and on it the mortal stings of death were swallowed up in the victory of our Lord (cf. I Corinthians 15:55). It is indeed Good Friday, because climaxed in the resurrection and on that day, mankind was granted eternal life through the unconditional love of the sacrifice on the cross.    

we are becoming more conscious and grateful for everyday blessings, the blessings that we once took for granted.

Throughout centuries, all those who have followed in the footsteps of our Lord Jesus Christ literally walked through the shadow of death (cf. Psalms 23:4). The eternal power of resurrection became their motivating power. It enabled them courageously to face all of the challenges of fears, dangers and threats. Our forefathers were humans like us, yet they were born anew in Divine Grace, and through God’s power they avoided becoming the victims of all negative powers. The Resurrection and Divine Grace made them the victors. 

For the 2020 generation, the celebration of the resurrection is not a mere pious tradition but rather has an existential message. For the last three months, mankind has been experiencing a time of unparalleled global distress, agony and hopelessness, caused by the microscopic coronavirus pandemic. For many, it seems like the end of times is at our doors. The priorities of individuals, communities and nations are becoming totally reversed. In the midst of mankind’s impotency and despair, a sense of humility is growing, and we are becoming more conscious and grateful for everyday blessings, the blessings that we once took for granted. It seems that after distancing ourselves from God, the Source of Life, through modern philosophy – rationalism, empiricism, enlightenment, idealism, existentialism, postmodernism – we are now being called to rediscover our authentic identity not in creation, but in the Creator. 

In light of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, if the most agonizing Friday turned out to be a Good Friday as Christians we believe, then the horrible experience that we are currently living may be a positive turning point in the life of our society. In this time of social distancing, we may come closer to the mercy of God, while our sins had distanced us from Him (Isaiah 59:2). In this time of isolation, we may discover the imperative of priorities, confessing God as our sole Lord, while we had often marginalized and neglected Him in our recent lives (II Chronicles 12:5). In this time of the loss of beloved ones, we may be transformed into discovering the Paradise Lost.  

As much as it is painful, I believe that coronavirus, more than being threatening, is signaling to us the horror of eternal damnation. It is alerting us to be attentive to not only our physical welfare, but to our spiritual well-being. It is pointing to the fragility of matter, time and space and redirecting our focus through the EMPTY TOMB.

As always, let us be alert, let us be vigilant, let us always have our lamps ready to be lighted (Matthew 25:1 – 13). Let us remember in our prayers all the physicians, nurses and medical staff who are on the frontlines of this invisible war, oftentimes risking their own lives in their noble mission. Let us remember all the public servants who are providing all our necessities and comforts. Let us remember all officials in the many governmental agencies who are dedicated to supporting the scientists in discovering the cure for this virus. 

Let us all pray to the Almighty God, the Lord of Creation, to shower upon us His wisdom so that we may not be misguided and perplexed by human perspective, but rather be led by His perspective and conquer each and every Gethsemane and Golgotha experience in our lives and to turn them into victory for His glory. Let us greet each other with the most dynamic and ever-victorious good news, “Christ is Risen from the death” Hallelujah!

Archbishop Anoushavan Tanielian
Archbishop Anoushavan (baptismal name, Torkom) Tanielian was born in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1951. He graduated from the Armenian Theological Seminary in Antelias, Lebanon, in 1971, and was ordained in 1972. He continued his higher education and received degrees from the Near East School of Theology (MDiv 1983), Princeton Theological Seminary (ThM 1985), and Columbia University (MPhil 1992, and later PhD in 2003). He was consecrated a bishop on June 4, 2006, by His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia, elected Prelate of the Eastern Prelacy of the United States on September 8, 2018 and later, elevated to Archbishop on November 23, 2018.
Archbishop Anoushavan Tanielian

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