SOUTH AMERICAN DIOCESE: April 10, 2015
Paschal Epistle of Bishop John of Caracas and South America
Christ is risen!
Beloved brothers and sisters, faithful sons and daughters of Christ's Church,
my dear Christians,
On these holy days we celebrate the victory of our Lord, God and Saviour Jesus Christ over death, the salvation from corruption and the liberation of the human race. Anyone who truly believes in Christ and His holy Resurrection can no longer be held in fear by death, whether spiritual or bodily, whether eternal or temporal.
By the power of His Resurrection Christ has freed us from this, and we are able with the Apostle Paul to proclaim: O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?(1 Cor. 15:55), and with him to know Christ, and the power of His Resurrection (Phil.3:10). It is thus that with great power the apostles gave witness of the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus (Acts 4:33). The opposing powers felt so threatened by this power, that even before the Resurrection they attempted to prevent it by tempting the Saviour while yet alive to come down from the cross, and then, after His death, sealing His tomb with a stone and a guard.
From the Resurrection, throughout the whole course of history to this very day, this power of the Resurrection has proved to be intolerable to the principalities, the powers, and the rulers of the darkness of this world (cf. Eph. 6:12), for not only does it bear witness against their untruth, but it frees believers from their tyranny.
Tyrants and persecutors, from the Jews and pagans of apostolic times to the atheists and Islamists of our own days, have understood well that anyone who truly believes in the Resurrection of his Saviour, and who lives by its power, and seeks fellowship of His sufferings, to be made conformable unto His death, to attain unto the resurrection of the dead (Phil.3:10-11), cannot be intimidated, but will always be free of their tyranny. They have therefore waged, and always will wage, war against the Resurrection and those who believe in it, that, even if they cannot extirpate the belief, they might extirpate the believers.
If even the enemies of Christ have had to recognize the power of the Resurrection, how much more should we as Christians realize it, not merely recognizing it, but making it our own, and living by it, so that our faith becomes such that it truly would be worth dying for, that by it we might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.
Dear brothers and sisters, on these holy days let us also not forget our brethren in Christ, suffering in the Middle East, let us pray to the Risen Lord for them, and at every opportunity show what solidarity we can with them.
Bishop of Caracas and South America.