+ S T Y L I A N O S
By the grace of God
Archbishop of Australia
To all the Clergy and devout faithful of our Greek Orthodox Archdiocese
Brother concelebrants and children in Christ,
“Come let us drink a new drink,
not one marvellously brought forth
from a barren rock. … “
This exhortation of the Paschal canon is not merely a rhetorical figure of speech. It is a prescription of life and a concrete possibility of salvation. It is also a confession of gratitude to Christ, who came forth form the Tomb and abolished the pains of Hades and of Death.
“Come, let us drink a new drink.” We, people, thirst for justice and joy. We thirst for forgiveness, light and love. We thirst for life, immortality and eternity. Perhaps, there is no other creature of God that is so demanding and so unsatisfied, as is the human person. Moreover, there is also no other creature of God that feels so intensely its needs and deprivations, as does the human person. It is for this reason that God has made people the centre of His interest and providence.
After His Incarnation, Christ is crucified and is risen, so that He might secure for humanity deliverance and blessedness.
The whole mystery of the Divine Economy points to the Cup of Life. The condescension of the Incarnation culminates in the glory of the Divine Eucharist. Therefore, we, the faithful, are called to drink from the blood” of the slain lamb” of the Book of Revelation.
If the blood was not of the New Testament, it would still be the blood of “calves and goats”, and the drink would not be “new”. And if it was not the blood of the One who alone is sinless, it would not have been able to grant remission of sins, “shed for us and for many”. However, we must especially note, that, in order to receive “remission of sins and eternal life”, there is no talk about “eating”, but rather about “drinking” .
Namely, that which is characteristically emphasised is the new “drink”, and not the” food”. One might ask, what is the deeper symbolic significance of this characteristic detail? Whilst we know that the nourishment of people generally includes both “food and drink”, yet we all know that it is “drink” which constitutes the basic food of the infant.
Therefore, the symbolism here is that, if we are to taste the new drink, we must “become infants with respect to evil”. We must become like the child. We must believe like children, who consider nothing impossible, when they know that they have a father.
In other words, we are called to be born again, rendering void all our past sinful life through repentance, precisely as Christ epigrammatically asked the same thing from Nicodemus.
May God also show His mercy on us, so that we may overcome whatever obstacles in this painful journey against the current. In this way, tasting the new drink, we shall be able to chant in the presence of all deaths and above all graves, “Christ is Risen”!
To Him be glory and power unto the ages of ages. Amen.
With fervent prayers in the Risen Christ
Archbishop S T Y L I A N O S
Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in Australia