"If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God." (Colossians 3.1)
We, the Patriarchs and Heads of Churches in Jerusalem, send our Easter Greetings of hope to Christians around the world from the Holy City of the Resurrection. It was from here that our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ first broke the bonds of sin and death, rising victorious from the grave. It was from here that the angels first asked the women at the tomb, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen!” (Luke 24.5-6). It was from here that the Risen Lord first appeared to his disciples from behind locked doors, calming their fears by saying to them, “Peace be with you” (John 20.19).
Yet before these glorious moments, our Lord suffered mightily on our behalf. This he himself recalled to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, asking them rhetorically, “Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” (Luke 24.26). And so, after eating a Last Supper with his disciples, Jesus prayed plaintively in the Garden of Gethsemane, obediently accepting the cup of sorrows set before him. He was soon betrayed, arrested, and led away in chains. On the morrow, he was falsely accused, condemned, beaten, and unjustly sentenced to a horrible death on the cross.
Paradoxically, this instrument of pain and death would soon become Christ’s throne of glory. From it, our Lord spoke words of forgiveness and healing, even as he bore upon his shoulders the crushing weight of humanity’s countless sins and sufferings. In this way, Christ joined with us in our sorrows, even as he overcame the forces of evil behind them in his loving submission to the will of the Father.
This past year has been a time of great sorrow for all the world. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, millions have suffered a serious illness, with many succumbing to death. Millions more have faced severe economic hardship, isolation, loneliness, and despair.
Our Lord has been with us through all of these afflictions. He is with us still. On Easter morn, Christ appears to us anew, opening our eyes to see his face on the faces of our brothers and sisters in need, calling us to reach out to them with compassionate arms, bringing to them his healing, his comfort, his forgiveness. These are “the things that are above” he calls us to seek. Through our prayers and deeds of kindness, and empowered by the Holy Spirit, we ourselves are raised with Christ in his redeeming work of reconciling the world to himself, and us to each other.
On this joyous Easter Day, we join with all of Christendom in recommitting ourselves to this sacred calling during this time of ongoing crisis. In doing so, we pray that we may give fresh substance to that ancient acclamation of joy exchanged on this holiest of days, in a multitude of languages, by millions of Christians around the world: Alleluia. Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed. Alleluia!
The Patriarchs and Heads of Churches of Jerusalem