Paschal Letter of Father Robert Arida
April 19, 2009
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
“When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal
puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is
written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’” (1 Cor.15:54)
Christ’s death, burial and resurrection form the core of our Christian faith. They indeed provide the contours of the great and marvelous mystery we are called to enter. The celebration of the Lord’s Pascha is nothing less than the acknowledgement of Life’s triumph over death.
Yet, this triumph is inseparably bound to the cross and therefore to death itself. Christ’s voluntary death is a new death. Christ’s death is the death of the God-Man which changes from within the very essence of death. Prior to the death of the Incarnate God, death was a return to the earth – a return to darkness. For St. Athanasius of Alexandria (4th c.) death before the cross was a return to non-existence (On the Incarnation 4). But now, because of the cross, the process of death is reversed. We are no longer destined to darkness and non-being but to new and divine life.
The cross is the supreme “word” of divine love. It declares our release from the embrace of Adam which binds us to sin and corruption. It proclaims that we are no longer bound to the tomb but are held by Christ through whom we undergo a divine birth in baptism. The cross announces the annihilation of death by death.
Through the cross Christ’s ministry is perfected for it makes him the “pioneer of our salvation.”(Heb.2:10) The Lord opens to us the path from death to life. His voluntary death makes possible his resurrection and our resurrection.
Through the cross joy has come into all the world. “O Death where is your victory? O Death where is your sting.”(1 Cor.15:55) Christ is Risen and Life reigns.
With love in Christ,