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Let us be radiant (Paschal Hymn)

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In the 8th Century, one of the saints of our Church, John of Damascus wrote this Hymn to the Resurrection:

The Day of Resurrection! O People, let us be radiant. It is Pascha, the Lord’s Passover; for Christ God has carried us over from death to life, from earth to heaven, as we sing a victory hymn.

We sing this hymn shortly after proclaiming the Resurrection of Jesus in the midnight Resurrection service.

The priest has called us to “Come receive the light from the unwaning light, and glorify Christ Who is risen from the dead.” The dark church has become bright with the light of our Paschal candles. Somehow, the whole world seems bright with the reality of Christ’s Resurrection. And we endlessly repeat the affirmation of our faith, “Christ is Risen!”

As Orthodox Christians, the story of Holy Week and Easter does not end with the Crucifixion. For an Orthodox Christian, Easter is about the empty cross. Christ is Risen. His suffering is over. Death could not defeat Him. The tomb cannot contain Him.

This is why Saint John Chrysostom writes in his Catechetical Paschal Homily, “Oh Death, where is your sting? Oh Hades, where is your victory?” Jesus has defeated death once and for all – for you and for me.

When we participate in the Resurrection of Jesus, we become radiant because He is the light of the world. As He told us, “Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). Following Jesus means that we will have His light of joy and gladness shining in our hearts. We will have a life full of meaning and purpose.

It is possible for all of us to become saints. It is not just for a few people who lived a long time ago. It is the natural result of our baptism.

Listen to some of the prayers that were read for us at our baptism:

  • “Open the eyes of his understanding, that the light of Your Gospel
    may shine brightly in him.”
  • “Make her a child of light, and an heir of Your kingdom.”
  • “Fill her with the power of the Holy Spirit.”

These prayers ask that the seed planted in our heart on our day of baptism will grow within us and guide our lives.

Our baptism was the beginning of our journey in growing toward God. Though for most of us were baptized as babies, our Godparents made a commitment to Jesus on our behalf. But now that we are older, we can make that commitment for ourselves, and do our best to grow in our faith and in our relationship with Jesus.

Being saved is not an event but a life-long journey. The saints you see on the icons all around us were once children and young adults just like you. They set out on the same journey of growth in Christ.

A saint is a sinner who keeps trying. A saint is one who makes it easier for others to believe in God. Do your friends ever ask you about your Orthodox Christian faith? Are you radiant with Christ? Do you reflect His light?

As Orthodox Christians, we have a duty to let the light of our faith shine before all people. Think of the single lighted candle in the Resurrection service whose flame, when it is shared, lights up the entire church.

Let us take the light of Christ that we received at our baptism and the light we receive at His Resurrection, and let it light up the earth -- Let us be Radiant!

Amen.

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