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The life and legacy of Jesus Christ is central to the Christian Easter celebrations of God’s love for humankind. The world over, billions of followers gather to commemorate the global message that the spiritual world joined the material realm as God gave his grace to the fallen and thoroughly corrupted humankind.
The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ marks the very reason why we observe the holy week of Easter. It is the largest celebration worldwide in Christian churches, regardless of denomination.The unique possibility of union with God and peace of mind in an ever darker world is its central, universal message. As Christ, the Son of God, gave his life motivated by his love for humankind, his followers are also to give their lives to Christ to fight for what is right. The cosmic battle against egoism and evil is a Christian’s daily quest as we strive to acquire the source of wisdom to survive in this world: To love God and to love one another.
The message of God’s love for the fallen human race and His solution for the redemption of man – to exit his distressed and doomed state – this is the glorious story of the Easter salvation. The personification of evil, Satan, who hates humankind and seeks to corrupt us all, suffered his fundamental defeat as his doom was sealed by the victory of Christ. The humiliating cross, the point where Satan – who is unable to understand love – thought he won the cosmic battle for man’s soul, it is precisely here Jesus’ sacrifice opened the path for the redemption of mankind. While Satan and his evil angels are doomed and awaiting celestial judgment, humans have free will and can still escape the same fate.
Just like the life-giving hand of the Almighty reached out in Michelangelo’s famous painting in the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel in Rome, touching man and thereby enabling him to live and overcome his darker tendencies, the Easter message is about how to acquire power to do good. It is also a story of the power of humility. St Porphyrios of the Eastern Orthodox Church says: “The true Christian religion transforms people and heals them. The most important precondition, however, for someone to recognize and discern the truth is humility. Egotism darkens a person’s mind; it confuses him, it leads him astray.”
Yet, this simple message so cherished and loved by billions who adhere to the Christian faith worldwide, is somehow almost forgotten in the Western public discourse. Of this, St. Seraphim of Sarov states in the famous and well-worth reading book “On Acquisition of the Holy Spirit“: “At the present time, owing to our almost universal coldness to our holy faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, and our inattention to the working of his Divine Providence in us, and to the communion of man with God, we have gone so far that, one may say, we have almost abandoned the true Christian life.”
He continues: “The testimonies of Holy Scripture now seem strange to us, incomprehensible. But there is nothing incomprehensible here. This failure to understand has come about because we have departed from the simplicity of the original Christian knowledge. Under the pretext of education, we have reached such a darkness of ignorance, that the things the ancients understood so clearly, seem to us almost inconceivable. We have become so inattentive to the work of our salvation, that we misinterpret many other words in Holy Scripture as well, all because we do not seek the grace of God and in the pride of our minds, do not allow it to dwell in our souls. That is why we are without true enlightenment from the Lord, which He sends into the hearts of men who hunger and thirst wholeheartedly for God’s righteousness and holiness.”
The Easter story of grace, the possibility of a new beginning and God’s mercy on us is brilliantly retold in Mel Gibson’s film “The Passion of the Christ,” which describes the cosmic story and how it all took place.
If love filled our hearts, there would be peace on earth. Again, St. Seraphim of Sarov: “How great is God’s compassion on our misery, that is to say our inattention to His care for us, when God says: ‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock.’ (Revelation 3:20) This is why it has been said: ‘Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation,’ (Mark 14:38) that is, lest you be deprived of the Spirit of God. For watching and praying brings us His grace.”
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