Dear Brothers and Sisters,
As we prepare to proclaim with boldness and joy the resurrection of Christ, it is impossible to turn our faces away from the signs of death. As we eagerly await the Paschal Vigil, the scars of suffering and hopelessness cover the lives of countless men, women and children for whom the words "Christ Is Risen" carry no meaning and purpose.
To think that our celebration ignores the universal reality of death and suffering would be a gross misconception. At the very core of the Lord's three day Pascha, the reality of suffering and death is revealed in its most grotesque form in the Golgotha event. The God-Man gives himself over to suffering and death, revealing the ugliness and horror of their might. The Lord of Glory takes on the sin of humanity - past, present and future - and offers up his life on the cross for the life of the world and its salvation. Allowing his life to be taken by death, Jesus changes death. The suffering and death of the Savior offers all the world and us a new beginning. Indeed, suffering and death no longer have the final word.
The death of Jesus Christ has overcome death. By his death, death is no more. The word of the cross - the word of humiliation, suffering and death - is bound to the empty tomb. It is the empty tomb which shows the word of the cross to be also the word of glory, light and life.
As we prepare to celebrate and proclaim the resurrection of Christ, suffering and death will continue. Yet the supreme expression of divine love revealed in the life-creating death of the Lord also continues to be offered for every one and every thing. Nothing can escape the love of God - not even death and hell (cf. Eph. 4:8ff). "Death is no more because the gates of hell are not opened but destroyed. The bars and locks of hell are not opened but smashed to pieces. Truly, Christ has rendered hell useless. It has been made into heaven." (Chrysostom)
With love in Christ,