“… in the hope of the Resurrection to eternal life…” – Prayer from the General Trisagion
Beloved brothers and sisters in the Lord,
The evocative image of an empty tomb stirs up many an emotion in the hearts of all Christians. Knowing that a tomb, and its sense of finality, is empty, is a paradox that has perplexed humanity for many centuries. By human logic, it does not make sense! For all Christians, however, the empty tomb is an image which brings joy, happiness, peace, and much more. Perhaps the most important of them all, however, is hope.
“And lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age” were words which Jesus uttered and thus, gave us hope. In His teachings, the Lord promised us that He was the way to eternal life, and an abundance of joy with God the Father. The destruction of death and life with God is a promise, one that brings with it hope, which is realized with the empty tomb. It merely requires a response from us to partake of it.
The Fathers of the Church said that in order for something to occur without, it must first happen within. At the time of Pascha, we ask ourselves if within us the tomb is empty, or if Christ remains in it still. Do we have hope in eternal life, and hope in the Resurrection? Is Pascha a mere cultural construct? If the tomb within us is empty, then hope will also exist within us. It is a hope that cannot be destroyed, and one which ultimately leads to life with God in eternity.
This hope is a gift of Pascha, no matter what form it is celebrated in. As disappointing as it might be to not attend church physically or receive communion, let us call to mind that the thief on the Cross never received in his life and yet was promised Paradise. Regardless of where we might be or what kind of access we have to the temple, the message is the same: the tomb is empty, and hope endures.
If we must be asked to wait to receive communion after this tidal wave of events allows life to go back to normal, let us remember that the hope that is within each Orthodox is still there, and very much alive! The Life brings hope. Let us receive and embrace it.
Wishing you a blessed Resurrection. Καλή Ανάσταση!
With hope in the Risen Lord,
Father Niko Bekris