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Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church

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His Eminence
Metropolitan of New York & All America
Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church

Pascha, April 27, 2008

Христос Воскрес!  Воістину Воскрес!

Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!

Cristo ha Resucitado! En Verdad ha Resucidado!

Al Maseeh Qam!  Haqqan Qam!

My Beloved Brothers & Sisters in Christ:

The annual celebration of Pascha  -  the mystery of Christ’s mission, passion, death and resurrection offers us a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the experience of life in in general, through the ages. Likewise, it allows us to ponder the successes, obstacles, blessings and yes, passions of our own individual situations.

The story of the culmination of Jesus’ life, although it occurred some two millennia ago, could well be set on the stage of our own time and place. While much has changed since the time of the Gospels, in the area of science and technology, so very much has remained the same, in regards to human nature and the willingness of people to listen and to respond to God’s true word and the real wisdom that comes from God’s lips to our ears.

The Christian scriptures portray the Lord Jesus as the “Son of Man” who, to fulfill the mission of his heavenly     Father, was to proclaim the arrival of the Reign of God. Son of Man though he was, Jesus lived and ministered in the midst of reigns which were far different from God’s. In Jesus’ time, much as in our own, people lived under the yoke of “domination-systems” which were meant to promote the lives of those who cooperated with power and politics rather than those who sought to hear with what God was speaking to his people. The governments and religious systems in the first century, CE were much too focused upon personal benefit and promotion, and paid little attention to justice, equality, love and liberation, all of which were part of the agenda of God’s reign.

Today, we encounter the very same things. While many of us are fortunate to live in countries of freedom in the sense of democracy, there still remain the imperfections of “the system” which cause our lives to be less than God would have them be. Everything difficulty we deal with in our daily lives can be traced to this or that policy or situation, the effect of which flows downwards from the chief officials to every day citizens.

Jesus faced opposition from political and religious authorities, because of his radical message about God’s reign. Today too, if we speak the real truth, we will also suffer discrimination and criticism and often even malicious forms of exclusion and character assassination, even if we simply try to do the work God has called us to do or “speak the truth in love.” There are so many at our jobs, in our career environments, in our supposed circle of friends, and yes, sadly also in our families and churches who are all too happy to see others fail and stumble, while they move about in self-righteous patterns, living as if they had the answer and solution to behoove every situation.

The good news, my dear friends, is that as Christians, we have a resurrection-faith. It is a belief-system, not a  domination-system, and it is based on hope, on justice and on God’s ultimate power over the forces of darkness and evil that so often plague life as we know it.  Jesus’ victory over death teaches us about the real “facts of life.” Its effects are meant to be understood as very real destructions of the power that leads to death, and the bestowing of the gift of a life that leads us not on a dark path to misery and the grave, but to a bright future where peace and justice are the principles which rule. Christ’s bestows the life that opens for us the door to God’s reign.

So, my good people, let us celebrate and rejoice in this “feast of feasts,” because we know that ultimately God is on our side, will help and deliver us, and will lead us on to the victory of his reign. Pascha is a time that our people love to celebrate. Let us not remember it for just one day, but continue to be together in our faith-communities, singing and praising the goodness of our God, who bestows upon us who have faith, the fullness of every good thing.

We greet the much-beloved and respected Primate of our Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Mefodiy, all of the God-loving bishops, clergy and faithful of our church in Ukraine and throughout the world. We send our salutations also to our most dedicated co-worker in Christ, Archbishop Odon of Latin America, together will all of our clerics and faithful there. We acknowledge them for their untiring work and personal sacrifices for the growth of our church in the southern hemisphere. We pray that the paschal light of Jesus’ resurrection brighten the way to prosperity and advancement in all good things, today and in the time ahead.

With the bestowal of my blessing and the promise of my love and prayers, I remain,

Faithfully Yours in Christ,

Metropolitan of New York & All America