Today, on Easter Sunday, we celebrate the great event of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and His victory over the powers of death. “Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen! Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice! Christ is risen, and life reigns!” as we hear Saint John Chrysostom proclaim in his Paschal Homily.
The Church refers to Easter as the Pascha of the Lord because it sees His Resurrection as a new Passover. The word “Pascha” comes from the Hebrew word “Pesach,” which refers to the Jewish Passover from slavery in Egypt. Led by the prophet Moses, God delivered His people from slavery and led them into freedom in the Promised Land.
The early Christians understood the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ to be a new Passover, which frees us from the slavery to sin and leads us into true freedom. He is the true Lamb who has been sacrificed for us, and through His death He has conquered death forever.
This Passover of the Lord is one that we are invited to share in. The liturgical texts for Holy Week and Pascha speak not so much about historical events, but repeatedly refer to “today,” reminding us that Christ’s victory over death is a present reality and something that we need to enter into. For, through our baptism, we too have died with Him and have been given the promise of a new life in Him.
The light shines in the darkness, in this life and in the flesh, and is chased by the darkness but not overtaken by it. By this I mean the adverse power leaping up in its shamelessness against the visible Adam but encountering God and being defeated – in order that we, putting away the darkness, may draw near to the Light and may become perfect Light, the children of perfect Light.
Saint Gregory the Theologian
The Holy Gospel according to Saint John 1:1-17:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came for testimony, to bear witness to the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness to the light.
The true light that enlightens every man was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world knew him not. He came to his own home, and his own people received him not. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God; who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father. (John bore witness to him, and cried, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, for he was before me.'”) And from his fullness have we all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.