by God’s mercy, Archbishop of the Most Holy Archdiocese of Australia, Primate and Exarch of All Oceania, to the God-loving Bishops, the gracious clergy, the monastic brotherhoods, to the Presidents of the honourable Administrative Committees and Philoptochos Associations, to the teachers and students in the Schools, to those who work in the philanthropic institutions and to all the Christ-loving plenitude of the Orthodox Church in Australia, grace and peace from Christ our Saviour who gloriously rose.
Most honourable Fellow Bishops and my beloved children,
The Resurrection of Christ is undoubtedly a historical event, which took place “even though the tomb was secured with a seal”, namely without the presence of witnesses. On the contrary, at the Transfiguration, which took place forty days before the Crucifixion of Christ, present were the three select disciples, while the human presence is also recorded by the Evangelists during the Passion. However, in comparing the event of the Transfiguration with the events of the Passion, we will notice some basic differences. Whereas at the Transfiguration, for example, God the Father is present and His voice is heard, in the garden of Gethsemane, God seems to be completely absent; on Mount Tabor we have triumph and light, clouds and glory, while in the Garden of Gethsemane, what is evident is the loneliness and agony of Jesus in the dense darkness, which is expressed by His words: “I am deeply grieved, even to death” (Mt 26:38). Similarly, at the Crucifixion which followed the events of Gethsemane, there is no element of God’s presence, nor Christ’s messianic power, to the point where His tolerance and patience gave rise to the mockery of those crucifying Him, who said: “if He is the King of Israel; let Him come down from the Cross now, and we will believe in Him” (Mt 27:42).
This took place because Christ did not wish to impose Himself with miracles and supernatural proofs. On the contrary, He founded the supreme event of the Resurrection, overturning the status of historical objectivity with faith. It is for this reason, that both Christ and the Evangelists did not subsequently wish to invent eyewitnesses of the Resurrection, so as to make the event more believable. Such specific human witnesses would have been destructive, they would have been seen as proof of humanness and createdness, of logical and temporal conjuncture, while now the Resurrection is established as a fact of faith that invites us into an existential transcendence.
The great challenge, therefore, is not to prove the Resurrection but rather our faith, which, as an ecstatic experience, frees us from trust in those things which can be seen and affirmed; it helps us to escape from that which is considered secure, certain and logical; and it leads us to the revelation of the end times. With faith, we are all invited to be eyewitnesses of the Resurrection, because faith truly leads to the miracle; or to put it better and more theologically, faith is a unique miracle, which begins with the empty tomb of the Risen Christ.
Christ is Risen, brothers and my beloved children!
In Sydney, Sunday of Pascha, the 24th of April 2022,
† Archbishop Makarios
Primate of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia
37th Encyclical, Sunday of Pascha 2022