Beloved monastics, clergy, all sons and daughters, faithful spiritual children of our Holy Church in Australia and New Zealand, from a paternal heart overflowing with Paschal joy, We greet all of you on this great and radiant Feast of Feasts exclaiming in the inspired words of Saint John Damascus:
CHRIST IS RISEN!
And truly, let us look round about and see, beloved, and let us rejoice boundlessly, for this most holy dawn has awaken. This dawn gives birth with it to the sun of a New Day and true freedom in Him who conquered death! Christ is risen and having assembled us, His children from the West and the North, from the South and the East, brought us joy so that we may more perfectly commune with Him in the unfading day of His Kingdom! This is the First Day of a New Creation beneath our ancient sky, one in which truth has again shone forth to gather that which was scattered and return it in the glory of His Resurrection from the dead!
Behold, life once again reigns and death no longer exists! Christ is risen and has taken our sorrow from us! He confirmed the indissoluble community of His truth and His love in Him who is Truth and Love! Death, where is your victory? Death, where is your sting? (I Cor. 15:55). According to the words of the Holy Apostle, the sting of death is sin (I Cor. 15:56), and sin is found outside His community! Therefore we, as the Holy Mary Magdalene, the first witness of the living Christ, are invited to overcome ourselves and our selfishness and to hasten! We are invited to hasten and to share that blessed and all joyous news with others who suffer, who sorrow, and who are deprived of their God-given freedom!
With the heralding of the Edict of Milan in 313AD, the enlightened Roman Emperor, Saint Constantine the Great, by birth from Nish (Naissus) granted freedom to confess the Christian faith, and also freedom to all other religions. Sadly, even though 1,700 years have passed since then, we continue to be witnesses to the religious persecution of Christians and Christian minorities in many lands. So it is with our Serbian lands, and especially in Kosovo and Metohija. It is our duty, we who live in free countries, to confess the Resurrected Christ, to witness truth before the entire world. However, we must first ask ourselves are we, beloved, in unity with those who suffer? Are we truly in unity with our Mother Church and with the entire Orthodox Church?
For this reason, the great contemporary confessor of our Serbian generation, Saint Barnabas of Hvostna, clearly states – There is no sorrow to which sin is not the cause. Therefore, freeing yourself from sin means to be wedded unto joy! And being wedded unto joy is possible only in the unity of Him who defeated the last enemy of humankind – death, which had held us in the yoke of slavery. It is for freedom that Christ has set us free, states the Apostle to the Gentiles (Gal. 5:1). Truly, every kind of persuasion against submitting to truth does not come from Him who calls us into His communion. Those who are of a different plan and rebel will have to pay the penalty, whoever they may be (cf. Gal. 5: 8, 10).
In the peace of Christ and in His unity our Holy Church throughout the world invites all peoples to gather. The Church is a sign that the Gospel speaks the truth! The Church is the Body of Christ, which inspired of the Holy Spirit makes Christ the community of love, compassion, comfort – the pure face of the Resurrected Christ. According to the teaching of Saint Maximus the Confessor, in all that we do God seeks an objective . . . let us have as an objective not the pleasing of people, rather pleasing God, so that beholding Him always, doing all for Him, that we do not undertake an effort and loose the reward (Book III of 100 Texts, On Love, No. 48).
Therefore, with the plenitude of Christ’s Holy Church, from the West and the North and the South and the East, our firm community and sure source of our freedom, truth and love, let us from all our heart exclaim:
CHRIST IS RISEN!
TRULY, HE IS RISEN!
Given in Sydney, at Pascha in the Year 2013
Your fervent intercessor before the Risen Christ,
Bishop of the Metropolitanate of Australia and New Zealand