Christ is Risen!
Well, I broke down in tears during the Paschal Aposticha. Here are the two verses that impacted me most:
Let us joyfully embrace one another. O Passover, save us from sorrow; for today Christ has shown forth from the tomb as from a bridal chamber and filled the women with joy by saying: Announce the good news to my disciples.
This is the Resurrection day. Let us be enlightened by this Feast, and let us embrace one another. Let us call Brethren even those who hate us, and in the Resurrection forgive everything and let us sing: Christ is risen from dead ! By death he trampled Death, and to those in the tombs, He bestowed life.
I got so choked up, I could barely croak the hymns out. The Resurrection Matins is the pinnacle of the year for me. The Byzantine Catholic Church, and all Greek Catholic Churches, for that matter, are Churches of resurrection. We are unwanted, called aberrations, and an offense to others We are a scandal, a stumbling block to larger Churches, to the larger religious world in which we find ourselves struggling to make and keep our identity . But so was Christ. Christ is a scandal to the wisdom of the Greek, and to the Jewish religious world from which Christianity came. Christ was beaten, cursed, afflicted, tortured, and buried, guarded by the authorities lest He make a come back.
Yet He did come back. He did return. The powers of this world were no match for Him, for he is the strongman who robbed Hades of its treasures. He burst the iron bars locking the doors, and the bronze gates crumpled before Him. And He took our father, Adam, and our mother, Eve by the hand, and lead them to Paradise, with all the righteous Fathers and Mothers who went before Him in this world, and lay the road for all humanity to be save.
So it is with our Church. Our Churches were beaten, tortured, killed, and buried by the authorities, whether in the Communist era in Eastern Europe, or today in the Middle East and Africa, where all Christians, despite confessional lines, have their blood mixed up the ground. Christ will descend to raise us as He did our Father Adam. It will not be a violent victory, or a militant victory, for these victories do not guarantee peace. It is a victory by embracing each other. It is a victory that calls brethren-brothers and sisters-everyone, even those who hate us, do not want us, find us offensive, who torture and kill us. It is a victory of forgiveness. It is a victory where we all sing the risen Christ!.