St. Mary Orthodox Church

Cambridge, MA

Harvard Divinity School Homily - April 29, 2009

My sisters and brothers,

Christ is Risen!

Orthodox Christians will proclaim those words and greet one another with them for forty days.  What I hope is that those who proclaim them and use them will also consider their meaning.

The Resurrection affirms a cosmic redemption, reaffirming and assuring the fulfillment of the original vocation of creation. Bede Griffiths wrote, “This was the very purpose of creation – that each unique, individual being should participate in its own way in the divine Being, should realize its eternal ‘idea’ in God, should ‘become’ God by participation, God expressing himself through that unique being.’ Far from affirming our petty parochialisms the Resurrection breaks down every wall for everyone and everything in the vast, diverse panoply of the cosmos transcending both space and time.

The great Orthodox lay theologian Olivier Clement often said that the Lord came to transfigure all of creation, down to the last speck of dust.  And if every speck of dust, then certainly every man, woman, child and every creature who has ever been or ever will be born.  

The Orthodox pray at most every service to the Holy Spirit proclaiming that he is “in all places, filling all things.” We listen often to the Great Apostle Paul who claims that one day “Christ will be all in all.” We read Paul’s words that “every knee shall bow and every tongue confess” and miss the point because we forget the context.  “Every knee shall bow” not from fear of judgment, but from seeing at last the God of unconditional, incomparable, unsurpassable love who is and always was in us, around us, above us and below us.  We will confess with tears of unmitigated joy.

That our little minds cannot wrap themselves around a God larger than our paltry beliefs and petty biases and larger than any concept or definition we could possibly dream up shouldn’t alarm us.  This means that there really is a God!  We should rejoice! The first challenge of an authentic spiritual life is see things as they really are, not as we believe them to be, want them to be, demand them to be or hope they will be.  We should desire most of all that things be as they are and that we come to see them only as they are! This is the classical definition of enlightenment in every mystical tradition I know and it is enlightenment that dispels darkness. 

Still St. John’s words ring true, “they loved darkness more than light.”  Let us be among those who long for light more than darkness!  Belief is a kataphatic enterprise, but Faith is an altogether apophatic journey.  A journey into the mystical darkness that leads to wisdom out of the egoic darkness that binds in ignorance. The Orthodox Baptismal service proclaims that Christ is the Light that enlightens, “everyone who comes into the world.”  That Light now shines (and always does) from the Empty Tomb.  All that remains is that we awaken to it and consciously immerse ourselves in it.

Christ is Risen!