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«Christ is Risen!»
A short story by Pavlos Nirvanas
Once — many years ago— when I happened to celebrate Easter and the Resurrection in a little mountain village of the Peloponnese, I had noticed an old villager who was holding a lit Easter candle with his arm outstretched upwards, towards the stars that adorned the skies of that Resurrection night, and, as though addressing me, I heard him gently murmur:
“The Heavens, my child, were tamed on this night….”
In those few words, that innocent villager had succinctly enclosed the most profound meaning of the Christian miracle. “The Heavens were tamed”.
Without the supreme Christian miracle of the Resurrection, the heavens would have continued (for the cowardly soul of the simple person and for every human soul generally) to be the abode of a dreaded God; a fair judge, but also one without leniency, and a merciless vindicator. Such were the gods of all other religions. They reigned supreme over their creations, instilling fear in them. They were omnipotent tyrants, who remained at a great distance from their peoples; they had never acquainted themselves with their worshippers’ weaknesses, they had never suffered the pain that their believers suffered and had never been tormented by their believers’ torments. They had never mourned like their believers mourned. They were incapable of compassion, of sympathy or forgiveness. How could the heavens that are inhabited by such gods not be perceived as “savage”, in the eyes of awe-struck mortals?
In that calm spring night, as the old villager’s lit candle was lifted to the heavens like a greeting towards the twinkling, resurrected stars, the heavens indeed seemed tamer. They were no longer the abode of a God estranged from His people, seated far, far away “up there” on His terrible throne. There now resided a lovable God; one Who had savored all the sufferings that mankind suffered: He had acquainted Himself with all the injustices of the world, He had undergone every kind of scorn, He had paid for every single kind of ingratitude. He was abused, laughed at, spat on, dragged through the streets in bonds as though He were the worst of criminals, and was crucified. He had hungered, thirsted, and had beheld the horror of death. For a moment, He had even seen Himself as forgotten by God Himself, who was His Father: “My God, my God, why have You abandoned me?” There was no pain that He had not become acquainted with; no heartache that He had not felt; no misery whose poison He had not tasted. He drank every kind of bitter drink that a person could ever drink in this world. And, on a night like tonight, this suffering and tortured person had risen to the heavens and had seated Himself, all-powerful, at God’s Throne, to govern the entire world. How could the Heavens not become “tamed”? An infinite goodness had now engulfed the Firmament.
“Why should any sinner tremble in fear from then on?” the old man must have thought to himself. “He who had forgiven the whore, the robber - and even those who had crucified Him - is now “up there” and He can see the sinner’s tears of repentance and forgive him. Why should any sick person feel desperation? He who had healed the blind and the paralyzed is now “up there” and can heal him also. Why should the poor and the wronged feel resentment? He, who had hungered and thirsted is now “up there” and is fully understanding of his misery too. Why should any mother worry anxiously about her child? Up there, in the Heavens, is a caring Mother who has also endured maternal suffering and who will beseech (on that mother’s behalf) Her Son, who governs the entire world, to bestow His mercy on her. And why should any white-haired elder tremble during his hour of death? For him - as for every soul – there awaits a resurrection…”
The Heavens were indeed tamer on that spring evening. And the old man’s candle had indeed been raised as a greeting – and as a thanksgiving – towards those ‘resurrected’ stars.
—“Christ is risen, grandpa”.
—“He is God; He is the Lord, my child”.
Article published in English on: 14-11-2007.
Last update: 14-11-2007.