My dear Brothers and Sisters in the Lord,
In Orthodox iconography, the Resurrection of Christ is depicted by the image that bears the inscription: “The descent to Hades”. This icon of the Orthodox Church expresses in the simplest and most essential way the great mystery of the Resurrection of Christ.
The risen Lord, as our Church teaches, descended to Hades to liberate the first-created human beings, but also the entire human race from the tyranny and power of the devil. Before the Resurrection of Christ, all those who had fallen asleep because of ancestral sin, had been taken captive by the devil into His kingdom in Hades.
But with His death on the Cross, the resurrected Lord crushed “the power of death, that is, the devil” (Heb. 2:14); “having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross” (Col. 2:14); freed us from Hades and gave the resurrection to all who believe and confess that “the man Jesus is the Christ” (1 John 2:22), that is, the true Messiah and Redeemer of the world. After the Resurrection of Christ, humanity, as children by the grace of God the Father, can, if we so desire, inherit His eternal and indestructible kingdom through repentance and God’s mercy.
We live this triple miracle during the glorious feast of Easter, which is the “feast of feasts and feast of festivals”. A miracle that exceeds our most imaginative expectations. The Redeemer of our souls and bodies, for our sake, endured the cross and conquered death, in order to free us from the captivity of our fallen nature and to give us “eternal life and great mercy.”
And in return for this ineffable gift and charity, He calls on us to free ourselves from the soul-destroying sinful passions, which enslave us to the most terrible tyrant, the devil, and destroy the full joy of the Resurrection.
He calls on us to be set free from “the doctrines and commandments of men” (Is. 29:13; Mt. 15: 9), which alienate the image of the true God.
He calls on us to renounce all ideas, mentalities, fanaticisms and entanglements that are contrary to the Gospel, which destroy the freedom of the children of God.
He calls on us to condemn the violence that breeds every war in the interpersonal, family, social and political spheres.
He calls on us to fight for the supremacy of freedom, peace, justice and human rights, in whatever form they are violated in our time, since such violations humiliate the dignity of the human person.
“Since we have been raised up with Christ” (Col. 3: 1), the way to our spiritual and social freedom is now open and we are empowered to “throw off our old self with its habits and to dress the new man”. (Col. 3: 9-10)
Let us strive to live the resurrection daily because Christ says to each of us: “… rise from your eternal sleep. I did not create you to remain a prisoner in Hades. Be resurrected from the dead! Because I am the life of mortals. Rise up, my creature! Rise up you, who are my form, whom I created in my image”! (St. Epiphanios of Cyprus)
Please accept the cordial resurrection wishes of His Eminence Metropolitan Soterios of Pisidia, of our Clergy and our assistants in the Lord, along with my own heartfelt wishes for good health in body and soul and every blessing and Grace to you and to your loved ones from the resurrected Lord.
Christ is Risen!
With much love and special honor in the Risen Christ,
+ Metropolitan Ambrosios of Korea