by the mercies of God
Archbishop of the Romanian Archdiocese of the United States of America and
Metropolitan of the Romanian Orthodox Metropolia of the Americas
To the Beloved Clergy and Orthodox Christians of our Holy Archdiocese,
peace and unwavering hope from Christ the Risen Lord,
and from us Archpastoral Blessings.
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.
And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works.
Most Reverend Fathers, Beloved Christians,
Christ is risen!
The message of the Lord’s Resurrection this year is completely different from other years, for we find ourselves, like the Myrrh-bearers and the Apostles, burdened by doubts and uncertainty due to the new epidemic that has spread through many parts of the world. Arriving at the Lord’s tomb early on Sunday morning, the Myrrh-bearers were met by an angel with the announcement, “I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay” (Matt 28:5-6). The Apostles Peter and John ran to the tomb to discover the same reality of the empty tomb, giving rise to a multitude of questions. Just like them, many of us ask what has happened to the world, to Christians, where is the meaning of our life in this world dominated by panic and frightened at the possibility of illness and even death.
We must immediately add that the bewilderment of the Myrrh-bearers and Apostles was dispelled by the news of the Lord’s Resurrection, confirmed by the appearances of the Risen Lord. This brings us to the subject of unwavering confession of hope, for He who promised is faithful.
St. Peter the Apostle speaks about this hope in the Resurrection of Christ, the source of Christian life and the purpose of our earthly life: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Pet 1:3-5). Christ’s Resurrection has given us new birth into a living hope, says St. Peter, assuring us, like the Apostles and Myrrh-bearers, that from the empty tomb the destination of humanity has been changed into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. That revelation at the tomb is repeated with each of us as we receive the Mystery of Baptism and then partake of the outpouring of grace in the Mysteries of the Church. By being immersed in the baptismal water every one of us dies and is resurrected with Christ. We die to the old life of sin, of separation from God, and we rise to the new life, lived with God. Receiving this grace at baptism we through faith are shielded by God’s power [unto] salvation, again in the words of St. Peter. In the Mysteries we receive the love of God which is imparted to us as the fruit of Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross and of the Resurrection. For in the name of all humanity Christ sacrificed Himself that He might regain the love of God. The offered Body was raised through the power of God, and this power and divine love are poured out upon us in every Holy Mystery of the Church, imparting to us the saving power of the Risen Christ.
Having spoken of the living hope springing out of faith in God’s power, St. Peter addresses us who are undergoing the trials of these days: “In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed” (1 Pet 1:6-7). Just as gold is tried in fire, our faith is tried through all kinds of trials… for a little while. As gold is refined of all impurities by fire and becomes more precious, our faith through testing is freed of every trace of doubt and becomes steadfast. The brilliance of gold is passing, but our steadfast faith is unto eternal glory. St. Peter’s words, written in Rome around the year 50 A.D. to the Christians who were undergoing persecutions and trials, speak of the steadfastness in faith that will be revealed and will result in praise at the Savior’s second coming. St. Peter’s words apply to every Christian who has received Baptism and believes in the Resurrection. These words of St. Peter are a source of illumination now for us who are asking who we are and where we are headed.
Most Reverend Fathers, Beloved Faithful,
Our doubt during these days can be healed by faith in God’s power and can bring us to unwavering confession of faith, for Christ is risen! St. Peter and the other Apostles were afraid and hid, but the Risen Christ entered through the closed doors, spoke peace to them, and sent them out to proclaim His Resurrection. St. Paul sought the Christ who was dead and hidden by the Apostles. On the Damascus Road he met the living Christ, the risen Christ. Proclaiming the Resurrection, we too confess that we have met the One who has conquered death, the One who has entered the chamber of our soul and granted us His peace. Proclaiming the Resurrection, we all receive the power to witness to our neighbors, for Christ has risen and we too will rise (cf. 1 Cor 15). Every doubt and every faltering in our faith are conquered by the message of the Lord’s Resurrection and our own. During these days we do not only proclaim our faith that we will rise at the Lord’s Second Coming, but we confess that we already live in a world that is renewed through the Resurrection, a world in which our faith and hope are being tested, that they may be unto glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Only this message can bring hope to our world that is so troubled with fear and doubt.
I encourage all of you, clergy and faithful of our Archdiocese, to experience the Holy Feast of the Lord’s Resurrection with living hope, for Christ the Lord has conquered death and granted Resurrection to us. The One Who left the empty tomb and entered through locked doors now comes to every home and family and cannot be stopped by the isolation in which we now find ourselves. The One who conquered death now overcomes every restriction and comes down to bring peace in all our souls. I want you to rejoice and fear not, for He is risen! I encourage you, through word and deed, to bring light and hope to your loved ones and those who undergoing trials during these days. I embrace you in Christ the Risen Lord and I wish you health and hope!
Truly He is risen!
Your brother in prayer to God,
† Metropolitan NICOLAE
Chicago, The Feast of the Lord’s Resurrection, 2020