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    painting of an Easter procession outside a Russian church

    Yesterday I Was Buried, Today I Rise

    An early church leader reflects on Easter and the changes in our lives that the resurrection of Christ demands.

    By Gregory of Nazianzus

    April 9, 2023

    It is the day of resurrection and an auspicious beginning. Let us be made brilliant by the feast and embrace each other. Let us call brothers even those who hate us (Isa. 66:5), and much more those who have done or suffered anything out of love for us. Let us concede all things to the resurrection. Let us grant pardon to each other, I who have been tyrannized by the good tyranny – for I add this now – and you who have tyrannized me well, if you blamed me in anything for my slowness, since perhaps it is better and more honorable than the quickness of others. For it is good both to draw back from God a little, like great Moses of old (Exod. 4:13) and Jeremiah later (Jer. 1:6), and to run readily toward the one who calls, like Aaron (Exod. 4:27) and Isaiah (Isa. 6:8), provided both are done piously, the first because of one’s own weakness and the second because of the power of the one who calls.

    A mystery anointed me. I drew back a little from the mystery, long enough to examine myself. And I enter with a mystery, bringing this good day as an ally for my cowardice and weakness, that he who today is risen from the dead may also make me new by the Spirit, and clothing me with the new human being (Eph. 4:23–24) may give to the new creation (2 Cor. 5:17), to those born according to God (John 1:13), a good molder and teacher, one who willingly both dies with Christ and rises with him (Rom. 6:8).

    painting of an Easter procession outside a Russian church

    Nicholas Roerich, Russian Easter, tempera on canvas, 1924

    Yesterday the lamb was slaughtered, and the doorposts were anointed, and the Egyptians lamented the firstborn, and the destroyer passed over us, and the seal was awesome and venerable, and we were walled in by the precious blood. Today we have totally escaped Egypt and Pharaoh the harsh despot and the burdensome overseers, and we have been freed from the clay and the brick-making. And nobody hinders us from celebrating a feast of exodus for the Lord our God and keeping feast “not with the old leaven of malice and wickedness but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (1 Cor. 5:8), bringing nothing of the Egyptian and godless dough (Exod. 12:34).

    Yesterday I was crucified with Christ, today I am glorified with him; yesterday I died with him, today I am made alive with him; yesterday I was buried with him, today I rise with him. But let us make an offering to the one who died and rose again for us. Perhaps you think I am speaking of gold or silver or tapestries or transparent precious stones, earthly matter that is in flux and remains below, of which the greater part always belongs to evil people and slaves of things below and of the ruler of this world (John 14:30). Let us offer our own selves, the possession most precious to God and closest to him. Let us give back to the Image that which is according to the image, recognizing our value, honoring the Archetype, knowing the power of the mystery and for whom Christ died.

    From Saint Gregory of Nazianzus, Festal Orations (Saint Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2008). Used by permission.

    Contributed By GregoryOfNazianzus Gregory of Nazianzus

    Saint Gregory of Nazianzus (329–390) was a theologian, author, and doctor of the church.

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