I should like to add a few words of my own in greeting to all those who are listening to our service in the far wide spaces of our native land. What is the message the Feast of the Resurrection brings? It is that the final word does not belong to death but to life.
Christ died a dreadful death on the cross, not only abandoned by people, not only betrayed by a disciple, not only surrounded by hatred, but having experienced in His humanity the whole horror of the loss of God. And in this He shared with us the most terrifying aspect of the destiny of man. Dying on the cross He cried “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken me?” and thus, to an extent that we cannot even appreciate, shared with us the horror of our betrayal of God which leads to the loss of God. But the last word belongs to the Resurrection, not to this horror, it belongs to the victory of life over death, of God over evil, and this is the foundation of our rejoicing.
But the path that leads to the Resurrection not only for Christ, but for every person, for the totality of the Church, for any nation, is the same; it is the way of the cross, on which step by step man renounces himself, renounces everything that draws him and makes a slave of him instead of a free person, in order to be able with his whole heart and mind and strength, and indeed with all his frailty, to serve God and his fellow men.
That is our vocation. Christ promised to unite Himself to us in the Sacrament of Communion; He says in the Gospel, “Take, eat”, “Drink ye all of this”. But before that He offers a different cup to His disciples, or rather lays down a different condition: unless you drink of this cup, unless you immerse yourselves in the horror that is My horror, you cannot be My disciples. And this is what He says to us now, not only to those gathered here, not only to Believers in the vast plains of our native land, but to everyone, because this is not just a law of Christian life, it is a law of mankind. It is necessary to renounce oneself, it is necessary to die in the sense that nothing will attract us except that which is worthy of man, of the greatness of man, of his purity, justice, and truth of his life.
Now this problem faces the whole of Russia: the need for each person to reject everything that makes him a slave of his prejudices, his hatreds, his past, the slave of all that separates man from man, that incites one person against another. Whether you are a Believer or an unbeliever, whether you are a Christian or not a Christian, if you are just a person you must reject hatred, recognise another person, a brother – let him be mistaken, or maybe you are mistaken not he – and find a common language in order that our native land should be restored, so that peace and mutual love should reign in it, so that the combined effort of Believers and unbelievers, of those who yesterday were persecutors and enemies, and those who yesterday were martyrs and victims, should begin to build anew.
Let us then all be united: here in prayer, there in heroic self-denial and an acceptance of Christ’s life instead of one’s own. Let us unite for the resurrection of our country and of our Church, which at times sank so low in the person of some individual members, so that it should remain unblemished, pure, like the Body of Christ. The Church is the meeting place of God and man, and nothing can defile it. It is the Body of Christ, it is the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit, and each person in his darkness carries the spark of eternal life, the presence of God Himself.
Let us all make a good start in prayer and effort, and may every soul arise from the dead, may our Native Country arise and may our Church arise! I now send this greeting in your name and in all our names to His Holiness the Patriarch whom we saw here, who spoke bold, true words about Russia and about the Church and about himself. May God bless you in your efforts, Your Holiness, together with your flock, and we all greet you with the Easter greeting “Christ is risen!”.
Published: Cathedral Newsletter No. 250, May 1992.