Reverend Fathers, Honourable Presidents,
Esteemed Members of the Community Councils,
Philoptochos Societies, Teachers, Students and Youth,
And to the entire plenitude of our
Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Toronto (Canada)
“He is Risen, He is not here.” (Matthew 28:6)
By Metropolitan Sotirios
He is risen, He is not here. Although they did not believe that He would die on the Cross, the faithful women disciples of the Lord, the myrrh-bearers, nonetheless went to anoint His body with myrrh and spices, as was the Jewish custom. Upon arriving at the tomb, they found that the great stone that sealed it was rolled to the side, not blocking the entrance. The grave was open. The sacred Body of the Lord was not inside. Only the cloth which covered His Body. Seeing this, they were seized with fear and trembling. Yet, the angel clothed in a white robe shared with them the message of Truth: “He is risen, He is not here.” He resurrected from the dead, no longer in the grave.
As Jesus was crucified on the Cross, with His arms open and offering a heavenly embrace to the entire world, the soldiers and many others mocked and sneered at Him. They said, “Since He said He is the Son of God, let Him come down now from the Cross.” They believed they were victorious, because He surrendered His spirit on the Cross. Yet, He descended as a Victor to Hades. He smashed the chains of Hades and the power of death. He rose from the dead!
The priests, scribes and Pharisees, along with the elders of the people, tried to hide His Resurrection. They told the soldiers, “Say that His disciples came and stole the Body when you were asleep.” Yet, whatever the aforementioned tried to do to discredit the Resurrection did not work. Historians of those times tell us that Jesus rose from the dead. Indeed, the Resurrection of Christ is an historical event.
The Resurrection of Christ is not just an historical event. It is irrefutable proof of the divinity of Jesus Christ. St. Paul the Apostle preached and wrote that, “If Christ is not risen, then our faith is empty and in vain. Our preaching would then be in vain.” The fact remains that Jesus Christ rose from the dead.
In the two thousand years that have passed since then, many have tried to erase the historical event of the Resurrection of Christ from the memory of humankind. While they tried, they did not succeed. In these latter years, the enemies of Christ – which include, to an eminent degree, the mass media – always find time during the Christmas season and before Pascha to do anything possible to obscure and discredit from history the Resurrection of Christ. They did not succeed. They will never succeed. The Resurrection of Christ is, indeed, an historical event and an irrefutable fact.
Atheism, ideologies, and false religions always try to erase from the chronicles of history the event of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Just as the aforementioned, they did not succeed – and will never succeed. He is Risen!
As we all celebrate this evening the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ together, we approach as pious Christians and faithful to the True God. To you who are listening to this or reading it, whomever you might be: Believe in Christ and in His Resurrection. If you have doubts, do not fear. St. Thomas the Apostle also had doubts, but he later said to the Risen Saviour when Jesus appeared to him and the other disciples, “My Lord and my God!” This expression of faith in Christ, in His Resurrection and in His Divinity is your salvation. This is what will lead you to your resurrection. This is what will bring you into the embrace of God. This is what will make you a partaker of eternal holiness. Of eternal glory. Of eternal joy and bliss of God the Father.
Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen! Let no one ever doubt it.
With fatherly love and blessings in the Risen Christ,
Metropolitan Archbishop Sotirios
Head of the Greek Orthodox Church in Canada