EASTER MESSAGE FROM BISHOP HOVAKIM MANUKYAN

Christ is Risen from the dead. Blessed is his Resurrection!

“ I have set the LORD always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

(Psalm 16:8)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
In the early years of our Faith, the communities of followers of Jesus who gathered in
fellowship and worship—the Church—quickly spread. The number men and women followers
multiplied in great numbers. We read in the book of Acts (2:47) that “the Lord added to their number
daily those who were being saved.” The Resurrection of Jesus, an unprecedented event in the history
of humanity, enlivened the spirit of the early Christians. That same spirit is guiding us today, once
again, to proclaim the good news of the Resurrection by singing:
Christ is Risen from the dead.
Blessed is his Resurrection!

Let us rejoice in the words of the Psalms of David: Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue
rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you
let your Holy One see decay.” (Psalm 16:8-10)
It was not easy for the first Christians to believe in and understand the concept of the
Resurrection. When Jesus was transfigured on mount Tabor and “His face shone like the sun and his
clothes became as white as the light” (Matt 17:2), he told his disciples Peter, James and John to tell
no one what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. The disciples were
“questioning what this rising from the dead might mean” (Mk 9:10).
Even after the Burial of Jesus, when Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone
had been removed from the entrance, she ran “to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus
loved, and said to them ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they
have put him!’” (John 20:1-2).
During the course of Jesus’ preaching ministry there were already signs that showed his
power over death: He raised to life the son of the widow of Nain (Luke 7:11-17), the daughter of
Jairus (Mk 5:22-24, 35-43) and He raised Lazarus, who had been buried for four days (John 11.1-44).
However, the bodily Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead was a completely different event like
no other. After his Resurrection, Jesus was no longer subject to the natural laws of this world, nor
was it possible to understand this new reality with mere human reasoning. He appeared to his
disciples when they were gathered together behind locked doors, but at the same time he would sit
and eat with them, and show them his wounds. As one great contemporary Christian thinker has said:
“the resurrection was not just about some deceased individual coming back to life at a certain point,
but that an ontological leap occurred, one that touches being as such, opening up a dimension that
affects us all, creating for all of us a new space of life, a new space of being in union with God”.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
In his letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul writes: “And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching
is in vain, and your faith is also in vain” (1 Cor 15:14). Indeed, is the proclamation that "Christ is
risen" relevant to us today? Why is the Resurrection so important?

When Jesus was falsely accused and sentenced to death on the cross, it might have appeared
as a humiliation, yet he willingly underwent this for our sake. “For the message of the cross is
foolishness for those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God” (1 Cor
1:19). Through his crucifixion, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we
might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor 5:21). However, following his Resurrection, Christ’s
infinite power was made manifest. It is a profound power that ushers a new reality and is not subject
to the laws of this world. It is a reality that transfigures the corrupted world into perfection. It is a
kingdom, where there is no more death and corruption. The Resurrection ushers in a new Kingdom
that knows only the power of truth and love.
Today, we are called to take part and share the joy of the Resurrection. As St. Paul said: "We
have died with Christ and we believe that we shall live with him. For we know that Christ being
raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him" (Rm 6: 8-9). This
means, as we identify with the suffering of Christ, we also share the joy of his Resurrection and the
assurance of a new life through his victory over death, as did his disciples and the multitudes saints.
Indeed, the history of the Armenian nation is a living testimony of this faith.
As St. Paul said: that I may know him and the power of his Resurrection, and may share his
sufferings becoming like him in his death, that if possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead"
(Phil 3: 10-11; cf. 2 Tm 2: 8-12). In order to see and understand this, we must open our spiritual
eyes. This is a matter of faith and only faith is what matters here. As we read in the New Testament,
“faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Heb 11:1). In the Gospel
of John, we read: “Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the
tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other
at the foot.  They asked her, ‘Woman, why are you crying?’ ‘They have taken my Lord away,’ she
said, ‘and I don’t know where they have put him.’ At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing
there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. He asked her, ‘Woman, why are you crying? Who is it
you are looking for?’” Mary thought he was the gardener. She said, “Sir, if you have carried him
away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned
toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means ‘Teacher’)” (John 20:11-16).
The glorified Jesus said: “See! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and
opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” (Rev 3:20). Jesus will come
to us, if we long for him and our spiritual eyes are open.
May the grace of our Risen Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the
Holy Spirit be with you all.

Christ is Risen from the dead.
Blessed is his resurrection!

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