Once more, we stand before Christ’s tomb. Darkness covers everything, both around us and inside us. Yet, as God’s words “let there be light” brought the entire creation into being out of nothing, so our Savior, who is the Word (the Logos) of God, rises at this hour out of this darkness, setting the world ablaze by the unwaning light of His resurrection, igniting our souls with the fire of His life.
In his catechetical oration St. John Chrysostom declares, “Let no one grieve over their sins, for forgiveness has dawned from the tomb.” He assures us that forgiveness is offered to everyone without exception. “For the Lord receives the last, even as the first…the poor and the rich, the temperate as well as the immoderate, those who fasted and those who did not…”
Christ’s forgiveness is given unconditionally “in all and for all.” This is the radical message that the Church proclaims to everyone and always, especially on this Easter night.
It would seem, however, that today Christ’s forgiveness is NOT accepted. Ours is a society that takes pride in having liberated us from such outmoded ideas as “sin” and “forgiveness,” even though our so-called progress has done nothing more than turn yesterday’s sins into today’s virtues. As for the virtues of the past—charity and chastity, the sanctity of human life from conception to death—our culture of tolerance cannot tolerate these virtues any longer. We claim to promote individual rights, even though the individual becomes a mere token in the service of an ideology.
Everywhere today we see people come forward to speak (as they say) their truth, as if they were the truth. For a Christian though, it is only Jesus Christ who tonight rises from the dead that is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). No-one wishes any longer to be forgiven. No-one believes that there is anything to be forgiven for: mistakes in the book of life are not corrected by their authors, either because they don’t believe there are any mistakes, or worse—because they wish them to remain uncorrected.
If the Church continues to be persecuted, it is because this message of radical forgiveness contradicts today’s illusion of a man who has no need of salvation because he has made himself his own savior. Not so with us. We are aware of our faults and failures and we confess our sins. That is why our hearts leap of joy as we receive Christ’s unwaning light. We are the people as the Prophet Isaiah declares, “who sit in darkness and live in the land of death” (cf. Matthew 4:16) and that to us “a great light” has been given. Come then, “receive the light of the unwaning light.” Let us advance fearlessly into the world, armed with the radiant light that emanates from the life-giving tomb. May its glow penetrate the darkness. May it ignite every human life.
With Archpastoral Love in the Risen Lord,
+ M E T H O D I O S
Metropolitan of Boston