March 15 2020 Divine Liturgy
A Paschal Message from Fr. Leo
CHRIST IS RISEN! INDEED HE IS RISEN!
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, what awesome words to hear. If we travel back to the beginning of this journey of Lent, we can recall the Ritual of Mutual Forgiveness, the excitement and looking forward to hearing this great news of our salvation. As we journeyed, we might have wondered, "Are we there yet?", seeing how through our attempt of praying and fasting, we did tire a time or two. The Church in her wisdom therefore placed the Holy Cross in our midst on the third Sunday of Lent to encourage us to continue, as well reminding us at the end of the Presanctified Liturgies, "Grant unto us also, O Good One, to fight the good fight, to complete the course of the Fast, to preserve the Faith undivided, to crush the heads of invisible serpents, to be shown to be conquerors of sins and without condemnation, also to attain unto and worship the Holy Resurrection."
We need to recall also the words of St. John Chrysostom's sermon, read at the Resurrection Matins: "If any man be devout and loves God, let him enjoy this fair and radiant triumphal Feast... If any have labored long in fasting, let him now receive his just reward. If any have wrought from the first hour, let him today receive his just reward... If any have tarried even until the eleventh hour, let him, also, be not alarmed at his tardiness; for the Lord, Who is jealous of His honor, will accept the last even as the first... Rejoice today, both you who have fasted and you who have disregarded the Fast. The table is fully-laden; all of you feast sumptuously."
Thus, if we were attentive from the beginning of our journey, or if we were not so attentive, St. John Chrysostom further states, "Enjoy all of you the Feast of faith; receive all the riches of loving-kindness. Let no one bewail his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed. Let no one weep for his iniquities, for pardon has shone forth from the grave."
Therefore let us proclaim to the world with hearts full of joy that our God is the God Who saves. He has conquered death; Hell is overthrown. As St. Basil writes, He "gave Himself as a ransom to death, in which we were held captive, sold under sin. Descending through the Cross into hell - that He might fill all things with Himself - He loosed the pangs of death. He arose on the third day, having made for all flesh a path to the resurrection from the dead, since it was not possible for the Author of Life to be a victim of corruption. So He became the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep, the first-born of the dead, that He might be Himself truly the first in all things."
This is our God, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He has made all things possible for us, the ability once more to share communion with Him, to journey into His everlasting Kingdom, Paradise.
Asking for our Risen Lord's Blessing upon each and everyone. Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!