Paschal Encyclical 2017 His Eminence Moses of Toronto
[Paschal Letter] from His Eminence Moses of Toronto
Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ,
Christ is risen!
The mystery of our Lord Jesus Christ’s resurrection is an unfathomable abyss. As we stand in awe beholding our Savior’s extreme love for us made manifest to us through His life-giving death and resurrection, we come to the understanding that if the greatest Christian orators would write for all times, they would still fall short in their efforts to express this mystery. Our God and Creator put on our human nature in order to show us the way to become new men and women refashioned through the mystery of the co-suffering, self-sacrificing love of the God-Man, made manifest in His supreme sacrifice on the Cross. This is Truth Incarnate. The mystery of self-sacrificing love in Christ Jesus is the door to spiritual truth and eternal life.
The men and women of this age are occupied with various types of knowledge and, perhaps, some seek harmony with created things. As Christians we are called upon to seek knowledge through communing with the God-Man, Jesus Christ. When our earthly sojourn comes to an end all the things of this age will pass away. Yet, if we strive to harmonize our will with God’s will in a life of self-sacrificing love, we become participants in a Divine-Human existence both in this life and in the age to come. It is through a discerning life of self-sacrificing love that we embrace the Cross and death of our Savior and participate in the life and joy and forgiveness of the Resurrection.
We are filled with joy and wonder especially on this great feast of Pascha that, indeed, forgiveness has dawned forth from the tomb. Our Savior came not to judge, for He Himself said, “And if any man hear My words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.” (John 12:47)
The True Physician of souls and bodies came not to judge, but to set us free. He came not for the righteous, but for sinners. He became Man and walked among us in to stand in our midst and await our return, as did the Father of the prodigal son who waited and rushed to embrace his returning wayward son. Our Lord has risen from the dead in glory and He calls us to turn away from sin with a humble heart and to fall down before Him and embrace Him in repentance and to partake of His glory.
On this day of joy let us humble our minds and hearts before our Lord and rejoice in the gift of our passing over from death unto life. Let us make merry and be glad from the depths of our souls. Let us revel with a spiritual reveling in the promises of our Savior. Yet, one may ask, “How can a man or woman that is aware of his or her sins give themselves up to such joy on this day?”
Saint John Chrysostom is our guide in setting the tone for the Feast of Feasts and the Festival of Festivals, instructing us with these words in his Catechetical Homily for Pascha:
“If any arrive only at the eleventh [hour], let him not be fearful for his slowness, for the Master is munificent and receiveth the last as even the first; He given rest to him of the eleventh even as to him who hath wrought from the first hour. He is merciful to the last and provideth for the first; and to this one he giveth and to that one He showeth kindness…Wherefore, enter ye all into the joy of our Lord…Ye rich and poor, join hands together. Ye sober and ye heedless, do honour to this day. Ye who fast and who fast not, be glad today.… Let no one lament his poverty, for the Kingdom is made manifest to all. Let no one bewail his transgressions, for forgiveness hath dawned forth from the tomb….”
Let us rejoice on this day of our liberation for Forgiveness has indeed dawned forth from the tomb. Let us savor the great victory over sin and death that was accomplished, not by an angel or an ambassador, but by our very Lord and God and Savior, Jesus Christ. Our God chose to do that which is beyond what mortal men could have imagined in order to work out our salvation.
Now let us resolve to do our part and respond to His love. Let us seek to commune with Him with humility and grateful joy, conforming our hearts and minds to His will. Our God created us to participate in His joy and His light and His freedom. Let us seek this freedom in Christ all the days of our lives redeeming the time in Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. It is in this way we become partakers of the joy of the eternal victory our Lord has accomplished for us through His Cross and death and resurrection.
Let us strive to embrace this new way of life and, to the best of our ability, strive to pass it on to the next generation of Christians through our words and example. Amen. So be it.
Christ is risen!
Truly He is risen!
Your fervent suppliant unto God,
+Moses, of Toronto