Dear Friends,

Easter is the most important festival of the Christian calendar. Its importance lies in the importance of keeping before us the true hope of the Christian - the resurrection of the dead.  

Consider the revelation of God through the teaching of St. Paul on this very subject in these two passages:

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved (Romans 8:18-24).

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14).

The Romans passage presents us and creation as groaning in our present decaying bodies.  In this hope of resurrection and redemption we are saved.  The Thessalonians passage urges us not to grieve as others who have no hope about what happens after death.  It distinctly says that because Jesus died and rose, we know that all who die in him will rise again and be present when he returns.

Brothers and sisters, this is our hope for ourselves.  This is the ultimate goal for which we strive.  Don’t lose sight of that hope.  Don’t let the troubles of this world cover your eyes to what really matters – eternal joy, peace, and freedom from all pains.  Don’t let the pleasures of this world make you lose focus on what is the real treasure – our glorious inheritance in Christ Jesus.  Our Lord will return in glory, and we will be raised in glorious bodies.  Neither the sufferings nor the pleasures of this present time are worth comparing to the eternal glory and joy that await us at the Resurrection Day.                                        Someday we will sit (clothed with our resurrected bodies) at the banquet table with our Lord.  The full meal will be before us and we will never experience hunger again.  

So when hard times get you down, remember your real hope of everlasting peace.  When your body is ill, remember your real hope of a redeemed body that is never in pain.  And when you feel great and life seems to be going your way, remember your real hope is in eternal life in the presence of your Lord.  It is for a better city that we journey through this life.

Finally, see the greatness of God the Son who is Lord over all and yet finds his glory in submitting to God the Father.  Listen to this description of what God the Father did for his Son:

[God] worked [his great might] in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all (Ephesians 1:20-23).

When all is fulfilled and Christ has achieved all glory, all victory, he will turn to his Father, and say, “This kingdom is yours. Your will be done.”  That’s what it is, and has always been about, for our Lord.  God’s will be done.  To do his Father’s will is his highest joy.  Truly, what joy and love flow between the Father and the Son.  What joy and love flow to us because of their love.  Because the Son loves his Father, he dies for our sin.  Because the Father loves the Son, he raises him from the dead and will raise us.  Because the Father and the Son love us, we share in the hope of the Son that gave him the strength to endure the cross – the hope of resurrection and glory.  And what is required of us?  To reach out in faith and receive the hope.  To make that hope our greatest joy for which we live.

Fr. Leon