The Resurrection of Christ and the Death of Death
The Greatest Event in Human History
By Protopresbyter Fr. George Metallinos
The Resurrection of Christ is the greatest event in the course of History. It is the event that differentiates Christianity from any other religion. The other religions have leaders who are mortal, whereas the head of the Church is the Risen Christ. “Resurrection of Christ” means deification (theosis), the resurrection of human nature, and the hope for the deification and resurrection of our own person. Since the medicine was found, there is hope of life.
Through the Resurrection of Christ life and death acquire another meaning. Life means communion with God. Death is no longer the end of the present life, but is now man’s turning away from Christ. The separation of the soul from the body is not death, but an interim sleep.
The Resurrection of Christ justifies Christ’s uniqueness and exclusivity as Savior, who is truly able to create life, to transfuse His death-destroying Life into our corruptible life. One is the Christ, one is the Resurrection, one also is the possibility of salvation - deification. This is why it is on Him that we focus the expectation of getting over the impasses that choke our life. This is the Christ of the Saints, the Christ of History.
The “diluted Christ” of the heresies, or the “relativized Christ” of religious syncretism, the inclusive-religion of the new age, constitute a rejection of the true Christ and of the Salvation which is offered by Him.
The Christ of our Saints is the Christ of History, who excludes every confusion of Himself with any saving substitutes which are invented in order to deceive the masses. Because only in this way can fallacy maintain deception, facilitating the domination of antichrists (which may have intruded even inside the Church) who spread death, although they appear as “angels of light” and “ministers of justice.”
It is from the experience of our Saints that we realize that the most tragic beings are those “that have no hope” – hope of resurrection – but see biological death as the destruction and end of their existence. Unfortunately, even science bows to this tragic condition as it desperately searches to find methods of prolonging life and thereby transmits the delusion of overcoming natural death. However, equally tragic are those – even Christians – who are trapped into hermetically sealed compartments of chiliastic visions of universal prosperity and secular eschatology, and thereby lose the true meaning of the Resurrection, and sacrifice the supernatural to the natural and the eternal to the temporal.
The Resurrection of Christ as the resurrection of man and of the entire creation acquires its meaning only in the context of the Patristic doctrine of salvation. That is, only in sharing in the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ. This is the way that Hellenism appropriates the Resurrection in the course of its history. Orthodoxy, remaining faithful to the Resurrection of Christ, has been characterized as “the Church of the Resurrection,” because it builds up its entire historic presence on this faith, inoculating with the hope of the Resurrection the consciousness of its Peoples, and by this means reveals its cultural continuation. Among these Peoples of Orthodoxy the Greek People learned to dispel the dark nights of their enslavement with the Light of the Resurrection, as in the period of Tourkocratia (Turkish-occupation), when they joined to the salutation “Christ is Risen” the other one “and Greece is risen!” And they did this for 400 years.
It is within this context of perception that that hopeful invitation moves: “Come and receive the Light!” It is the invitation to the uncreated Light of the Resurrection, which is received by those who have cleansed their heart from vices and passions. Without the purification of the heart, i.e., without repentance (metanoia = change of mind), no one can partake of the Light of the Resurrection. Repentance is the transcendence of sin and of the cause of every one of our deaths. This is what they are constantly reminded of in their ears those who are uninitiated by the curious monastic saying: “So, if you die before you die, you will not die when you die!”
From The Forerunner, April–May–June 2013. Translated by Fr. George Dragas. Edited by John Sanidopoulos.