from Bishop Elya The Melkite Bishop of the USA
Beloved Flock of the pasture of Christ:
Christ is risen! He is truly risen!
How manifold are the acts of loving kindness of our man-befriending God! In the beginning man attempted to steal divinity as if hanging from a tree in Eden. Today our compassionate God freely gives us the gift we had tried to steal. He bestows upon us the divinity of His only begotten Son. The Cross upon which our Savior is nailed has become the Tree of Everlasting Life. The good thief cried out, “Jesus, remember me, when You come into Your Kingdom.” He heard the hope-filled promise “Today you will be with me in Paradise.” Let us hear and enjoy the Master’s sweet voice of pardon.
O Christ, how noble, dear and sweet is Your Divine voice; for You have made us a truthful promise to abide with us for ever and ever. And we the faithful hold on to this promise as to an anchor of hope; we exult in joy. (Canon of Pascha: Ninth Ode)
The drama that began in the garden of Eden ends in the garden of Golgotha. The empty tomb of Christ fills us with Life, the Life of God Himself. The first-created Adam, tiller of the soil, failed to tend the garden as he was commanded: Jesus, the new Adam, obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross and today risen from the dead, appears as a gardener to the Magdalen. He who thought divinity not something to be clung to, says to Mary: Do not cling to Me; go and announce to my brothers that I am alive. I have risen from the dead; I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God. I shall prepare eternal dwelling places for My beloved.
With a jubilant heart, I implore the full measure of radiant Paschal joy for every one of you and for all those dear to you in America, in the Middle East and throughout the world.
O Christ, great and all-holy Passover, Wisdom of God and His Word and strength: grant that we may partake perfectly of the everlasting day of Your Kingdom. (Canon of Pascha, Ninth Ode)
Finally, may our Risen Christ and Lord, who calls us His brothers cast in us with His joy the exhilarant feeling of brotherhood, solidarity and love in the glorious and endless day of His Resurrection.