Today is the Sunday of the Resurrection for Orthodox Christians. It comes at the end of the Holy Week, the most beautiful period of the entire year. Its beauty stems precisely from the Sunday that comes at its end, because you live every moment in view of the Resurrection. It is a tiring and very emotional week; with every Bridegroom service, every Presanctified Liturgy, with the Holy Unction of Wednesday, the washing of the feet, the Last Supper, the lowering from the cross and the Lamentations of Friday, you walk with Christ on an excruciating path. Even if you spend hours upon hours in church, I don’t know of a more productive week, and I truly believe this is so because, although you may believe you walk with Christ, it is He who walks with you. Participating in the act in which God glorifies himself, on the cross (!!!) out of love for us, you are given the opportunity to be in your highest moment of your humanity: being with another in his or her suffering. It is mysterious how you’re not tired, even if you sleep less, how you’re joyful, even if you’re crying, and how you wish the Holy Week would never end, even if you thirst for the Resurrection.
During the week, you are reminded of Jesus’ words in the Garden of Gethsemane, “So, could you not watch with me one hour?” so you try to be more present and more watchful. It is indeed a week of presence and watchfulness, and all of your senses seem to be awake.
But Sunday comes, and with it immense joy. The gates of Hades are broken, and death could not contain the One who has no beginning. “Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life.”
Christ is Risen!
So is it that I can go now to sleep?…
It certainly feels so, and it feels so as a loss. I no longer need to be watchful, but I can rejoice. I no longer need to pay heed to live (in fact, to truly live) every moment of my life because now I am in the Resurrection. But I think I could not be more wrong. This attitude reflects a Platonism (and I think Plato was not a Platonist, but this is a different discussion) that divides life in two: we expect to die so that we finally live (Fr. Stephen Freeman often writes about it). In other words, we do something for the sake of something else. Here is an example: we fast, so that we are forgiven, which is perhaps one of the most pernicious understanding of fasting (click here for a story from communist prisons that gives an idea about fasting).
Even for Plato, philosophy is the practice for death and dying, that is for the daily renunciation of one’s self. It is in this dying to myself that I truly live.
Perhaps even this question, “now what?” is the manifestation of my not-complete dying. If I truly emptied myself, then I may live the Resurrection while still being on the cross. I continue to be sick, but I am also full, because Christ is risen! I am weak, but I am also strong, because Christ is risen! I am lost, but I am also found, because Christ is risen!
So let us rejoice in the Resurrection! But let us not forget that tomorrow St. George is celebrated, so we have Liturgy. And after that a Sunday follows every other seven days. And this means work!
And let me also remember that I have dishes to wash; that I have papers to grade; that I know people in suffering.
Christ is risen!
Let us continue to embrace the Joy that embraces us! So let us rejoice in work! 🙂