Unlocking the Mysteries
Sermon delivered by Bishop Nikolaj (Velimirovic), Pascha, 1934; Ochrid, Yugoslavia
Each Christian feast raises hundreds of questions and gives hundreds of answers. The questions are from men, the answers come from God through the feasts. This is especially true with the feast of Christ’s Resurrection. Here He opens for us with His keys hundreds of locked doors. For God has more answers than man has questions; He has more keys than man has mysteries. Let us, then, consider a few such questions.
Here is a mystery: Why did Christ rise from the dead?
The key: Because Life could not remain in the grave. A thousand years before, the Prophet foretold concerning Christ:
…nor wilt Thou suffer Thy Holy One to see corruption (Ps. 15:10)
Christ revealed the living God, the Father, to the world; He revealed the heavens, the living realm of angelic hosts; He revealed life after death and the eternal heavenly kingdom. Would, then, the Restorer of life remain in the darkness of the grave and the embrace of death? Christ raised Jairus’ daughter and the son of the widow of Nain and Lazarus of Bethany. Would He Who raised others not raise up Himself? Truly He arose; He could not do otherwise by virtue of His essence, His power, His greatness. Weak is the force of death that aspired to hold down the Giver of Life in its abyss. Small is the mouth of death that aspired to strangle the Bestower of resurrection. Only in the light of the Resurrection can one comprehend Christ’s deeds on earth, His love for men and His divinity.
Here is another mystery: How has the belief in the Resurrection of Christ been preserved through so many centuries?
The key: In the same way that a well rooted tree withstands the winds, as light is preserved in darkness, and as truth is preserved amidst lies.
A third mystery: Is the Resurrection of Christ still felt today?
The key: It is powerfully felt, throughout the entire world. Gazing with the eyes of the spirit at the resurrected Lord, the weak are strengthened, the sorrowful are comforted, the sad rejoice, sinners repent, the wicked are corrected, the impure are cleansed, the persecuted are encouraged, the despondent hope, sufferers pray, and those on their deathbeds no longer fear death.
Today the Master spoiled hell and raised the prisoners from all ages whom it had held in bitter bondage. (from the Paschal canon)
A fourth mystery: What are the conditions for our own resurrection?
The key: To imitate here on earth Christ and His Apostles and all these righteous ones who pleased God, according to one’ s strength and God-given talents. To be humble, modest, compassionate, merciful, just, peace loving and persistent in every virtue. To pray to God, to repent of our sins, to constantly correct ourselves …. To read and listen to the Joyous News that is the Gospel of Christ, to accept every word of the Lord as sacred and to treasure it as a pearl, every word, every word. To believe all that Christ said, confessed or promised. And so we can not but have hope that we will rise rise up in this life from spiritual death, and in the life to come–from eternal death. Thus spoke the resurrected Lord:
I am the Resurrection and the Life: he that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die. (John 1 1:25-26)
Let us, therefore, believe in Him, for in Him we shall find all the conditions for our resurrection.
And so, let us fervently say: I believe, O Lord, help my weak faith. And with joy let us greet one another, brother to brother
CHRIST IS RISEN! TRULY HE IS RISEN!