Paschal Letter of Father Robert M. AridaApril 15, 2012
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
If Christ has not been raised, your faith is useless and you are still
in your sins. (1 Corinthians 15:17)
These words of Saint Paul, written towards the end of his first letter to the Church in Corinth, compel us to examine the quality of our faith which stands on the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:3ff) These words beckon us to assess whether our faith in the crucified and risen Lord is dead or alive.
To make this assessment we must see that faith is not a naïve hoping and yearning that has no rootedness in our minds and hearts. Neither is it a complacent wishful thinking that makes no impact on our daily lives. Nor is it the frantic groping for what will soothe the fears, doubts and anxieties that ultimately stem from facing our own mortality. Faith that is not living leaves us bound to sin and death.
According to the Letter to the Hebrews, faith is the concrete assurance – the very foundation (hypostasis) - upon which rests our relationship with Christ. (11:1) Given this relationship, we are led by Christ himself into the mystery of his death and resurrection by which we die to our sins and pass into new and eternal life.
Living faith endows us with true freedom – freedom from sin and death. But like faith, freedom is dynamic and therefore it leads us into the unknown. Consequently, faith lived out in freedom brings us into conflict not only with ourselves –our passions, fears and doubts - but with God himself. Like the patriarchs and prophets, our faith and freedom lead us on to contend with God and to also test all that he has promised in and through his eternal Spirit and Word.
When faith is alive we are able to, personally and corporately, as the Church, witness to the truth and beauty of our Lord’s Pascha. Recovering our freedom through faith in Christ we stand as concelebrants around our Great and High Priest affirming and confirming in the new and eternal covenant God’s inexhaustible love and care for us and all creation.