Now I am reminding you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you indeed received and in which you also stand. Through it you are also being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I handed on to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures; that he was buried; that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures; that he appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve.
— I Corinthians 15:1-5
The Apostle Paul gave one of the earliest explanations of the resurrection in the First Epistle to the Corinthians. Jesus Christ died for our sins, was buried, and rose on the third day. It is a simple and clear description of the foundation of our faith. Once you hear this message and believe it, you will be saved. We try each day to build upon this foundation in our lives and to spread the Paschal news of joy and hope that Christ is truly Risen!
Each time we sing and say “Christ is Risen!” we remember the events and prayers of the liturgical celebrations of Great Week. Each time that we say the words, we bring a little light into a world living in darkness.
With the faith in the Resurrection at the center of our mind and hearts, we face a world filled with challenges. Each day God drops something upon our laps which can overwhelm us: another bill, ache, pain, or complicated family problem or people calling or writing to us for help. The news is so filled with violence in our cities and countries of the world that the normal reaction is to give up.
The Odes call us not to give up. We sing “As smoke vanishes so let them vanish at the presence of God as wax melts before the fire.” Each of us celebrating the greatest feast is given encouragement to try to fix the things that are broken, and to heal suffering of body, mind, and soul. At the end of each day, we can know that we did something to make our world better.
For those who live in the north of the Archeparchy, the mountains of snow were so high that it seemed they never would melt, but the sun, warmth, and rain gradually melted them away. In the same way, the mountains of trouble can melt away if we pray and work together. The work of one multiplied by our entire church can light a fire that can inspire people to warm their hearts and change their lives. As the pussy willows and flowers bloom, the promise of new life is renewed in the good which is done each day.
The apostles and the first Christians were few in number, persecuted by their governments, and other religions. Against all odds, the simple but powerful message that Jesus Christ was born and died for our sin, was buried and rose on the third day has spread to over a billion of living Christians. The generations of saints who have entered into eternal life call to us and invite us to be faithful and join them in the eternal banquet of joy.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend William C. Skurla, D.D.
Metropolitan Archbishop of Pittsburgh