Christ’s merciful and humble love for the people is stronger than sin, stronger than death and hell as forms of selfish, lonely and unhappy existence, Patriarch Daniel of the Romanian Orthodox Church says in his Pastoral Easter Letter.
“Why must we bear testimony to the truth of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ as a defeat over sin, over death and hell? Because the merciful and humble love of Christ for us humans is stronger than sin, than death and than hell as forms of a selfish, lonely and unhappy existence. In this regard the Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ, united with Him through the grace of the Holy Spirit is also stronger than the gates of hell (cf. Matthew 16: 18). Why? Because the Church of Christ is the holy and eternal fellowship of humankind with the Holy Trinity, the source of life and everlasting love (cf. 2 Cor 13:13),” the Patriarch writes.
According to him, “the Holy Gospels show us that before crucifixion and death, Jesus did not respond to violence with violence, refusing the use of the sword drawn by Simon Peter (John 18:10) and did not respond to evil with evil, but prayed for the forgiveness of His killers, saying: ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do’ (Luke 23:34).”
“When the soul is filled with evil thoughts, wickedness, hatred, envy and violence, it opens to hell (cf. Psalm 87:3). But when man’s soul is filled with humble repentance and sincere forgiveness, peace and merciful love, it opens to Heaven. This is why Jesus Christ our Savior teaches us that ‘the Kingdom of God is within you (Luke 17:21)’,” says the Patriarch.
The Primate of the Romanian Orthodox Church goes on to remark that only “our faith in the victory of the Risen Christ over sin, over death and hell gives us strength in fighting selfish individual or collective passions and in the battle against evil spirits (Ephesians 6:12) that often cause the soul to sink in despair or loneliness, strife and division in the family and society, violence and crime, power conflicts and wars in the world.”
“Therefore, the joy of Jesus Christ’s victory over sin, over death and hell calls us to pray and work for peace and life, for bringing joy around us, helping to our best, by word and deed, those who need our love and support,” the Patriarch writes.
Reminding that the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church has proclaimed 2017 as Solemn Year of holy icons, iconographers and church painters and Commemorative Year of Patriarch Justinian and the defenders of Orthodoxy during communism, throughout the jurisdiction of the Romanian Patriarchate, His Beatitude Daniel points out that this “is a moral duty to the forerunners who, in times that were hostile to the Church and religion in general, have confessed their faith in the Crucified and Risen Christ at the price of losing their freedom or even their life.”
“The light of the martyrs must be commemorated with gratitude and reverence, as it is also the source of spiritual power in the life and mission of nowadays Church,” the Patriarch says in his message.
As we approach Easter Holiday, the Patriarch’s exhortation is to bring joy “by word and good deed (…) in the houses of orphans, the sick, the elderly, the poor, the bereaved and the lonely for them to feel that the sacrificial love of Christ the Crucified and Risen for the salvation of the world is a source of light, peace and joy,” but also to carry “in prayer and brotherly love” the Romanians “who are among strangers, away from their motherland.”
On the occasion of the Feast of the Resurrection, Patriarch Daniel wishes everyone peace and joy, good health and salvation, addressing them the traditional Paschal greeting ‘Christ is Risen!’