To The Reverend Clergy, Monastics, Parish Councils, Philoptochos Societies, Choirs, Youth, and all the Faithful of the Holy Metropolis of San Francisco,

"Let us in the deep dawn arise and, instead of myrrh , offer a hymn to the Master, and we shall see Christ, the Sun of Righteousness, who cause life to dawn for all." — 5th Ode of the Easter Canon

Dearly Beloved,

The early dawn of easter is incomparable in beauty and glory to the dawn of any other day. Heaven and earth embrace one another. God and all of humanity greet each other in a warm embrace. Death is embraced by life, but is shattered and vanishes like darkness encountering the sun’s early morning rays of light. Even the tombs and graves are embraced by the Resurrection. The dawning of this special day is not just for few select people. The skies above are sparkling for everyone; for those who believe and for unbelievers; the righteous and for sinners; for those who enjoy freedom and those held in bondage; for the Third as well as for the First World citizens; for those who look for the resurrection of the dead and those who think that life has already ended for them.

Let us lift our eyes to heaven, and in the tiny rays streaming from our lighted Easter candles, let us discern the brilliant light of joy all around us, that beams forth from the Sun of Righteousness. He is the author of life, and it is His life which is the light of men (John 1:4)-for those who live the life in Christ - a life that is uncomplicated and refreshing as springtime. His life moves about reaching the human soul - those who suffer or are abused; the downtrodden, the ill and infirmed; the sinner, and betrayer who experience death every day. For those who believe that Christ is not only in heaven but is also our very life on earth, the way and the truth and the life without end, this early dawn is a great revelation - the beginning of a new creation a new world and a new man.

It is therefore both an invitation and a challenge. It is an invitation to a new life whose unique feature is love. It is also a personal challenge to each of us to base our life on the principle of love, dispelling thereby, and once for all a fear of the present and fear of the future. St. John, the disciple of love, underscores this point when he says: “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18). In explaining the word “perfect” he adds, “Let us not love in word or speech, but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:18).

The Resurrection of Christ, this brilliant dawn, is calling us to a life of love “in deed and truth,” and to make our lives a labor of love and life of truth. It is calling us to share our lives as Christ did by His very example and the words He spoke concerning His mission in the world. He said: “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). The Resurrection of Christ calls us to the truth, the one which frees us from self-deceit and hallucination, and from arrogance and sin. It is the kind of truth defined by Christ: “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32). The expression, “If you continue in my word” is the criterion for the exhortation to “Love in deed and truth.” His reference to “My word” pertains to Christ’s commandment, when He said: “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:12-13).

The Resurrection speaks to us about all this with a tenderness. Our Pascal Festival will include the joyous hymn: “It is the Day of Resurrection; let us rejoice in celebration and embrace one another.” Are we able to clothe our soul with our most radiant attire - the attire of love? Are we able to extend our arms in loving care to embrace one another - friends and enemies alike; rich and poor; righteous and sinners; First Second and Third World citizens; home owners and the homeless; those clad in majesty and those who are naked; those who feast sumptuously every day and those who hunger and long for a warm meal; those in good health and those who suffer? Let us do it then, as we sit down at our Paschal dinner. Let us set aside the greater portion for the needy - for Christ and the least in His Kingdom (Matt. 23:45). Let us call one another, brothers and sisters, and let us forgive all the transgressions others may have committed against us on this Feast of the Resurrection - a time when God forgave the whole world.

Thus, in this spirit and in spiritual gladness, let us celebrate Pascha with a heart filled with love - “In deed and truth,” and let us cry out with one voice: “Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life.”

This is the kind of joyous Resurrection and the raising of ourselves that I pray for all of you this year.

With Paternal Love in Christ our Risen Lord,
+ G E R A S I M O S
Metropolitan of San Francisco