Pascal Message of the Armenian Catholic Exarch

The Feast of Victory

The resurrection of Jesus is the central event of Christianity and the basic truth of our faith.

It is true that without the nativity of Christ we would not have the Messiah–the Savior of the world. But if the Gospels had ended with the end of Jesus’ life by his death–all the content of the Gospels would have vanished. The message of salvation of Christ would not have had any sense–because it was based on the affirmation that he was the master of life and death–and specifically the eternal death–which is the result of sin.

All the preaching of the apostles–especially that of St. Paul who developed the teaching of Christ in his epistles–is based on the certitude that Jesus has triumphantly risen from the sepulcher. The angels who announced the resurrection said to the women–the first visitors to the tomb–"Why are you searching the living amidst the dead? He is not here–he has risen!"

Departing from this event that became an evidence for all the followers of Christ–we have been celebrating for twenty centuries the resurrection of Jesus. If Christmas is for us the feast of joy–Easter is the feast of victory. If Jesus has triumphed over death–we also will triumph over it–and we will share his glory. So that when we are submitted to trials and sufferings of life–we have strong conviction that all this will have a happy end. No suffering can be senseless or overcome our faith–for we share the suffering of Jesus who has predicted it as a precondition of the success of his mission as the savior of mankind.

Concerning the credibility of resurrection–some argue that it is based on a negative evidence: the empty tomb. Could we deduct from it–they say–that Jesus really has risen alive from dead or that his body was not fraudulently took away by the disciples? This is a nonsense–when we know from the Gospels that these poor men were so despaired of the tragic end of Jesus’s life that–terrified and disoriented–they escaped one after the other–not ever daring to accompany him during his passion and crucifixion. Yet–after the resurrection became a certitude for them–they were radically transformed–they proclaimed it courageously–and witnessed it at the cost of their lives–shedding their blood for it. Who would sacrifice his life for a phantasm or a legend?

We are not asked today–but in exceptional circumstances–to shed our blood to testify to the resurrection of Christ. Yet we are called to proclaim it in sometime difficult conditions: when we have to respect our engagement as followers of Christ–in the face of enemies of our faith who despise or deride it–or when we must make critical choices between our interests and our spiritual and moral convictions–or when we are asked to sacrifice our time or goods for the improvement and growth of the Church’s mission.

As we celebrate the resurrection of Christ with all Christianity–we must consider our own resurrection as the fruit of his resurrection. Not as a historical glorious event belonging to the past–but as a permanent presence in our daily life–inspiring our acts and thoughts–guiding our steps and our decisions according to the plans God has for each of us–until our final victory on sin and death.

Christ has risen from the dead.

Let us share the joy and hope of all who share our faith!

Bishop Manuel Batakian
Armenian Catholic Exarch in United States

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