By Mihail Markasev
Finally, Pascha! Finally, after the strenuous weeks of our spiritual struggle, after our feeble efforts and frequent ups and downs of this blessed season, we breathe a sigh of relief, and crowned with the quiet inner joy of the Risen Redeemer, we are looking forward to resurrecting our appetite for our favorite fatty foods and beholding our ascetic resolutions in the rear-view mirror of Bright Week. CHRIST IS RISEN! TRULY HE IS RISEN! And now the only remaining question is whether or not we will be RISEN with him.
Yes, during Lent we embrace an uncommon spiritual life, and with the arrival of Holy Pascha we hope to receive from the Lord an uncommon spiritual grace, a deeper faith, a more profound purification and illumination in living out our Holy Baptism: our union with the Crucified, Risen, and Living Son of God. So where do we, as God’s people, go from here?
Sometimes a helpful guide to our reality in Christ is to see it through the types and shadows of the Old Testament. After all, the Church Fathers said that the New Testament revealed is the Old Testament concealed, and numerous readings during Holy Week pointed the gaze of our hearts to the Exodus of Hebrew slaves from Egypt ruled by the iron fist of Pharaoh. This thrilling and unparalleled event isn’t a point in history, but a path of an entire nation. Similarly, Christ’s rising from the dead and trampling death by death isn’t a point to pass, but a path to follow, as we allow the Conquerer of Hell to take us by the hand—as the icon of the Holy Resurrection so vividly depicts—and leads us into a newness of life which leads along a narrow path through the wilderness of this life towards a Promised Land of eternal blessedness and communion with God. Christ did not rise in order for us to be happy or refined slaves, or for us to embrace the ways of Egypt after seven weeks of dieting. No, if our souls are set on “Egypt” then we will be judged together with it, for—according to Christ—were the heart is, there our treasure will be also.
“Therefore,” say the Apostle, “let us keep the feast, not with the old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth… For indeed, Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for was” (1 Cor. 5). Through our Lord’s Resurrection we are given a new life, a new hope, a new path in His Church which is our eternal family. Will we take Christ’s and and follow Him into this newness, or will we turn back to the “fleshpots” of Egyptian Slavery. With our lives, that question will be answered one way or another.