The Resurrection stands at the very heart of the Christian faith experience and it never ceases to surprise us. It is the mystery of mysteries and it radiates light, life, and love. It is the Light of the Risen Christ that penetrates the darkness of a world ravaged by wars, darkness, depression, broken relationships, separations, loneliness, anxiety, addictions. All these reveal the truth that our lives are in need of redemption and meaning. Easter is the light which penetrates through these very cracks of the human experience. In the words of Isaac the Syrian “all sins are but dust before God: the only real sin is to be insensitive to the energy of the Risen 0ne.”
This level of mystery is often very difficult to put into words: such a transcendental experience surpasses time and space. Possibly, a great help for our understanding is the eastern representation of the Resurrection through icons. Images possess unimaginable power to convey a truth and to penetrate the depth of a mystery, which mere words cannot convey.
When it comes to the icon of the Resurrection it depicts the Son of God descending into the very heart of darkness, the very place of hell itself, to seek the lost and to bring them back to life. We are all born with the fear of death. We feel in ourselves a great desire to live and avoid death. As life is by itself an experience of communion, only when we are in relationship we feel that we can rise from the ‘Sheol’ of meaninglessness through the One who holds the very keys of life and death in hands.
In the resurrection icon the Risen Christ with his light and glory enters the locked door of hell with the key of his cross, a key that unlocks the mystery of life and death. The word spoken to Lazarus at the tomb is now addressed to Adam and Eve who represent all humanity, as Christ takes them by the hand and lifts them up like a great magnet from the sleep of death. His words reflected in an ancient homily recapture the whole theology: “Adam I did not create you to be held in prison. Arise, let us leave this place.”
If someone asks a Christian: What do you believe in? What is your faith all about? The real answer is as simple as it is profound: Easter. We believe in the love that conquers death. Easter is celebrated in spring to reflect a new life and a new creation that we receive as a gift. Easter is Christ taking each and every one of us by the wrist, and calling us by name to new life and a new reason to live for. Easter is a breath of new life poured into our hearts by the Risen Lord. In the words of Ephraim the Syrian: “Christ came on earth to seek Adam the lost sheep, and when he could not find him anywhere, he went down to seek him in the place of death itself and brought him on his shoulders back to life.”
For the first Christians Easter was everything! Christianity can only be renewed when this mystery is once again at the very heart of our faith. Only those who experience this power can transmit it powerfully and with joy to an unbelieving world.
Halleluiah, Christ is Truly Risen.