We are approaching the end of Great Lent, and we are about to enter Holy Week, which will lead us before an empty tomb, the tomb of the Resurrected Christ. It is really inconceivable as to how “the Real Life” (η όντως ζωή) – the Lord Jesus Christ – could be placed under the earth, in a tomb. His holy condescension is a measure of a loving and salvific “emptying”.
Holy Week is also a march towards to our inner self. Usually, we march towards people and goals out in the world, but I think it is good and beneficial from time to time to open a dialogue with ourselves. We should then invite God into our company.
I think Lent is the time to attempt something like that. God and man, the two together, in an intimate relationship. After all, this is what faith is all about: the establishment of a trusting relationship that leads to a “knowledge of God” based on love.
Holy Week is also a march towards an encounter with Christ, who comes freely, loving, and willingly as a Bridegroom in the middle of the night because He loves us with incomparable passion and He reminds us that we are children of God, and we are His brothers.
This sacred and unique period of Holy Week has nothing to do with pietistic sentimentalisms or fundamentalist religiosities, but it is rather an invitation or calling if you wish to live and experience the Church. It is a calling to the self-realization of who we are and Whose we are. That we have been called to become more human, more divine, Godlier, every day – in other words, to become saints in freedom and free in sainthood.
Heaven starts here, and in that respect death is temporary because Christ’s resurrection pulverizes it. The resurrection of man is not some kind of an extension of his mundane earthly life, but rather a “Theoptia,” which means a constant vision of God, face to face. Again, God and man – the two of us.
Μany sermons will be delivered these days about salvation. It is not an abstract idea, or a theorem of psychological thinking. Our salvation is God. It starts from the moment of the denial of our self-justification and self-salvation, which are in vain. In this way, this biological phenomenon, which we call “our life” and which is of limited duration from our birth to our death, acquires meaning, and death, which is our unavoidable common tragedy and destiny, becomes less tragic.
Our encounter with Christ takes place in the Church. It is not a theoretical encounter but an ontological one. It is nearness or rather a unity between God and man, man and God through the communion of the Body and the Blood of Christ Who is the One of the Trinity.
Many times I wonder how distant we are from all these! The institutionalization of the Church and the hierarchical religiosity that dominates it has totally confused us in our days about what the Church is and what the Church is not.
Our churches are empty because we have lost “the Mind of Christ.” The time to rediscover the essentials of the Orthodox Church is long overdue. I think Holy Week is a good opportunity to do so.