Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew – Orthodox Easter Resurrection: The Gift of Liberation and Call to Compassion

ECUMENICAL PATRIARCH BARTHOLOMEW OF CONSTANTINOPLE PICTURED IN 2009 PHOTO
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew

While many Christians celebrated Easter over a month ago as a result of differing calendar calculations, Orthodox Easter takes place much later this year, falling on May 5. Thus, at midnight on Saturday, May 4, the night that our fourth-century predecessor on the Throne of Constantinople, St. Gregory Nazianzus, described as “brighter than any sunlit day,” some 300 million Orthodox Christians will swarm churches to hear the words: “Come, receive the light!”

On that night, throughout the world, entire congregations previously waiting in darkness and filled with anticipation will light up, their faces shining with joy and hope. Together they will all chant in numerous languages, depending on geography and culture, the triumphant hymn familiar to young and old: “Christ is risen from the dead, trampling death by death, and granting life to those in the tombs.”

“Life to those in the tombs” refers to a refreshing perspective on Easter: we see an open tomb, not an empty grave. The miracle of the Resurrection then is an open invitation to a new way of living that prevails over the darkness within us and around us. The Orthodox icon of the Resurrection depicts Christ pulling Adam and Eve, our earliest prototypes of sinners, out of a tomb and into a new life. It is an image of liberation, often depicting broken chains and shattered padlocks. The light of Christ enters and brightens the furthest depths of human experience. No longer does the grip of hell, imprisonment and defeat cause us to become rigid, numb and indifferent. Resurrection is all about a new reality, a fresh perspective, a renewed life, where resentment, hardness and hostility are overcome. Continue reading “Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew – Orthodox Easter Resurrection: The Gift of Liberation and Call to Compassion”