Holy Ascension Russian Orthodox Church
Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia
“Be Thou exalted, O God, above the heavens, and Thy glory above all the earth.”
Paschal Greeting from Father Rector

Christ is Risen!

 In the canon of Paschal Matins, it is exclaimed that our Lord Jesus appeared to the Holy Myrrh-bearing women and to His disciples. “The godly-wise women followed after Thee in haste; but Him Whom they sought with tears as dead, they worshipped joyfully as the living God, and they brought unto Thy disciples, O Christ, the good tidings of the mystical Pascha” (Ode VII).

Our Resurrected Lord manifested Himself many times during the forty days before His Divine Ascension and Session at the right hand of the Father, in this way preparing them for the descent of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. And, indeed He continues to reveal Himself in glory to new disciples from generation to generation, even as He appeared to the Holy Apostle Paul well after Pentecost. “Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time” (I Cor. 15: 8).

But if God desires that all men should be saved and come to the knowledge of the Truth (1 Tim 2:4) and loves even His enemies, why did He limit the vision of His radiant Resurrection to those who were close to Him and not all people? Would not the power and glory of His Resurrected presence be of assistance to those who mocked Him and crucified Him, so that they too could see and believe, and therefore be saved?

Christ does not compel anyone to believe in Him. His appearance in glory is solely to guide those who have suitably prepared themselves. The Disciples of Christ, including the Holy Myrrh-bearing Women,​ followed Him for three years, underwent an apprenticeship, were exorcised of passions and demons, and were purified. So, they were fit for deification and were capable of partaking in the grace of the Resurrection. The revelation of Christ was to their profound benefit and they were able to make use of the vision as a means to entering the Eternal Unwaning Light.

Those who were filled with malice and envy, those who cried “Crucify Him, crucify Him” and also “He saved others. Himself He cannot save. Let the Christ, the King of Israel, descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe” (Mk. 15: 31-32), have hearts incapable receiving Divinity. Without the preparation of repentance, the vision of Christ would be a mere spectacle that would at best astonish the spectators for a short time, and at worst illicit even greater aggravation in them. God, in His great love, spared His enemies of the vision of His glorious Resurrection, since if they beheld it and did not believe they would have the greater condemnation. “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more” (Lk 12:4​8​).

Just as Christ appeared to the Holy Apostle Paul after His earthly sojourn, so He appears to many people throughout the ages and will continue to do so until that final and glorious unending Day in His Kingdom. As we cry out “Having beheld the Resurrection of Christ, let us worship the Holy Lord Jesus, the only sinless One,” may we suitably prepare ourselves for that Radiant and Unending Day becoming disciples of Christ so that we also may be partakers of His Resurrection!

Archpriest Paul Volmensky, Rector
Pascha, 2023

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