To the Venerable Hierarchs, Reverend Clergy, Monastics, and Faithful of the Orthodox Church in America:
But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; for I know that you seek Jesus Who was crucified. He is not here; for He has risen as He said. Come see the place where He lay”. (Matthew 28:5-6)
We can only imagine the joy that overcame the Holy Myrrhbearing Women as they heard these amazing words - words which continue to fill us with awe and joy as we encounter the empty tomb and ponder the Mystery of our salvation in the Resurrection of Our Lord, Jesus Christ!
“Do not be afraid!” How easily we sometimes forget these words, living as we do in a world filled with violence and death, with fear and uncertainty. Christ destroys the wall of enmity, by which we were separated from our Creator. Yet walls of hatred, anger and fear continue to be built, walls that seek to extinguish the Light which darkness can never overcome and the One Whose Peace passes all understanding.
“Do not be afraid!” The Myrrhbearing Women, stunned by their Master’s death, had much to fear. Yet their faith was not shattered; their resolve was not shaken. Their fear vanished as they saw death vanquished. Their hearts were filled with unspeakable joy as they gazed into the empty tomb. Their emptiness was replaced with the fullness of God’s presence in a world which, today as then, clings to any sign of hope.
“Do not be afraid!” As we rejoice today in the Lord’s victory, what can we fear? Who can take away our joy? Indeed, life has triumphed over sin and death! Emboldened by this faith, let us shine in times of uncertainty with the Light which can never be overcome by darkness. Bolstered by the same assurance through which the fear of the Myrrhbearing Women was overcome, let us run, as messengers of hope, to proclaim the empty tomb to a world “groaning in travail” (Romans 8:22).
Assuring you of my prayers on this radiant and joyous Feast of Feasts, and asking that you join me in making a new and deeper commitment to the Risen Lord, I remain
With love in the Risen Lord,
Archbishop of Washington
Metropolitan of All America and Canada