Christ is Risen, Christ is Alive

When our parish priest came into our class at primary school to talk about the resurrection of Jesus he said to us, taking off his roman collar, “If Christ is not risen from the dead then I would throw away this collar and stop being a priest.” We were suitably impressed. Today we celebrate the core of our faith. It is not an event that happened long ago. Our chant today is “Christ is Risen.” “Christ is Alive.” All of us have welcomed the Light into the darkened church at the vigil and rejoice that the risen Christ has shattered the darkness of sin and death. Because Jesus has conquered death we now share in eternal life. We welcomed those who were baptised and renewed our own baptismal promises. This is for us a time of renewal and a time once again to affirm the new life that we have all received.

It is vital that we are reminded that Christ has conquered death. This is difficult for us when we are faced with images of death and destruction coming from Ukraine. Pope Francis in his Urbi et Orbis message one year said the following:

“From the risen Lord we ask today the grace not to succumb to the pride that fuels violence and war, but to have the humble courage of pardon and peace. We ask Jesus, the Victor over death, to lighten the sufferings of our many brothers and sisters who are persecuted for his name, and of all those who suffer injustice as a result of ongoing conflicts and violence.”

For us who look for religious Easter cards are more often than not presented with images of daffodils, painted eggs, and spring scenes which include country churches. I am attracted by the icons of the Orthodox Church that depict Jesus breaking down the gates of hell.

There is a wall painting from the Khora Church complex in Istanbul, dating from the 14th century. It is set in a stylised cavern in the depths of hades, where the righteous men and women of the Old Testament are kept in prison by Satan. Jesus is enclosed in a glowing mandorla as a symbol of uncreated light illuminating the dark abyss of Hades. By the feet of Christ, one can see the wreckage from the hell gates and a chained dark figure of Satan. The figures on either side of Christ are Adam and Eve, who have been brought by Jesus out of hell to be taken to heaven. Jesus holds them by their hands to accomplish their redemption. Jesus is bringing them to new life. Jesus setting them free. We have the next fifty days to explore, mediate and reflect that we truly are an Easter people.We have
been freed from death to live in the light.

Canon Father Anthony Charlton
Canon Father Anthony CharltonParish Priest