Beloved brother Hierarchs, Reverend Clergy, God-fearing Monastics, and all my Brothers and Sisters in Jesus Christ our True God:
Christ is risen! Indeed, He is risen!
Yesterday I was crucified with Him; today I am glorified with Him; yesterday I died with Him; today I am quickened with Him; yesterday I was buried with Him; today I rise with Him. But let us offer to Him Who suffered and rose again for us— you will think perhaps that I am going to say gold, or silver, or woven work or transparent and costly stones, the mere passing material of earth, that remains here below, and is for the most part always possessed by bad men, slaves of the world and of the Prince of the world. Let us offer ourselves, the possession most precious to God, and most fitting; let us give back to the Image what is made after the Image. Let us recognize our Dignity; let us honor our Archetype; let us know the power of the Mystery, and for what Christ died.
—St. Gregory the Theologian, Oration 1.4
The great sacrifice that Christ our High Priest has made for us on the Cross, the sacrifice which enables our sanctification when we partake of it worthily, has been fulfilled for us in the resurrection of Jesus, the first-born from the dead (Col. 1:18). What has been offered is shown to be a perfect Offering well-pleasing to God, as Jesus Christ is both Offerer and Offering, the One Who both distributes and is distributed in this sacrifice given for us.
In the context of that mystery of sacrifice, St. Gregory the Theologian urges us to offer not gold or silver or other earthly possessions but rather ourselves. When we are also sacrificially offered with Christ on the altar by being crucified with Christ, when our true dignity is revealed of being sanctified as brothers and sisters with the One Who sanctifies (Heb. 2:11), then we know “the power of the Mystery, and for what Christ died.” He died so that we might rise and be glorified together with Him, that the resurrection He inaugurated may be continued even in us.
Yours in the Risen Christ,
Rt. Rev. Bishop THOMAS (Joseph)
Auxiliary Bishop, Diocese of Charleston, Oakland, and the Mid-Atlantic