Istanbul (AsiaNews) – Death has been defeated and those of us who believe in Jesus must fear it no longer, instead we should occupy ourselves with having faith and keeping our souls “pure”. The Good News announced by Christ’s resurrection is thus at the centre of the ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew Ist message, which will be read this evening by the majority of the Orthodox world.
“Christ is risen! – writes the Patriarch – let the Chitins message of good news sound throughout our society of well-being, for the most part Christian. This society no longer questions itself about the nature of death and instead lives as if death were inexistent and the resurrection useless. And yet there is nothing as tremendous as the mystery of death as Church records and daily reality shows. Fear of death is pervasive, particularly for those who are ill or elderly, despite our efforts to defeat it with various methods; it consumes our peace and fills our souls with an unjustifiable anguish, constant uncertainty making it intolerable”.
“Our Lord’s resurrection – continues the Easter message – put an end to our uncertainties. Death no longer dominates life. It is no longer the inevitable end of our existence. The tomb stone no longer covers our existence in eternal silent. The massive rock that covered the entrance to Our Lord’s tomb was removed and Christ emerged triumphant, victorious over death. Fear of death disappeared for those who followed in his footsteps and they were filled with joy and hope”.
Where are you Death centre of all, where is your victory Ade, exclaimed triumphantly our predecessor St John Chrysostom. Certainly for many our words seem delirious. The Athenians on hearing the Apostle Paul speak of the resurrection of the dead, smiled ironically and turning to him said “we will speak about it some other time”. The same apostles even though they had heard Christ say that he would arise on the third day, had difficulty in believing the women’s message that Christ is risen”.
“We dear brothers and sisters in Christ – writes Bartholomew – live the repeated death and continuous resurrection of the Lord. Not only through the iconography of the Church, but also through the lives of our saints and martyrs. The Lord has risen and gifted us life. Death has been reduced to a mere transition to a new form of life. It has ceased to be the prison of the soul, a dead end, a state of desperation. The bonds of death were broken and those who follow Christ can come back to life with Him. Have faith and hope my dear brothers and sisters give up on fear of death and the anguish of a darkened life”.
“For those who believe – concludes the message – death does not exist. Purify your souls and bodies and follow the Lord, who is our resurrection. The Good News of the resurrection is not strange or indifferent to us, but involves all of us and it must fill us with joy when we hear the exclamation “Christ is risen. Because He truly has, and we too together with Him”.