How can one truly participate in the Greatest Joy, Pascha, without having asked ourselves what the difference is between the Old Testament and the New. And, just what that difference means.
It begins on Holy Saturday Evening with the words "Shine, shine new Jerusalem! For the glory of the Lord has dawned over you. Dance now and be glad, Sion; as for you, pure One, rejoice in the resurrection of your child." "The angel cried out to her who is full of grace; Rejoice! And again I say, rejoice! Your Son is risen from the tomb on the third day."
Mary, the mother of God, a Jewish girl, and is ever virgin, is the bridge between the old and new testament. She is the God bearer. In the Old testament, the One the Jews are still waiting for, was indeed born of her and He is the fulfillment of the law, the awaited Savior. In place of Moses and the law, Christ is the salvation of our souls, by His Righteousness. The shadow of the law has passed away, those that do not recognize His coming, will find that it was Christ all along, the One that they rejected. (Taken from the Sixth ode on Holy Saturday Evening) "Your divinity and Your flesh remained as one; You exist in both, as Son, as Word of God, as God and man."
Pascha, the Pascha of the faithful; opened to us the gates of Paradise; sanctifying all believers.
The joy of Christians is in the eighth day, the day of Resurrection, and Ascension, Pentecost and the hope of the second coming of our Lord and Savior, in a day that does not end. We need not look back but look forward to the hope that is ours. Those who appear to celebrate joy, in the old testament, haven't anything to be joyful about. For them it will be the "first" coming of Christ, while ours,will be the second. We Christians have the only Joy that there could possibly be....Christ has died, Christ is risen and Christ will come again.
"Having endured the Cross, abolished death and risen from the dead, imbue our lives with peace, Lord, as the only almighty One."
Finally, learn the meaning of the Prophecy of Isaiah (52:13-15, 54-12). Especially, (54:1)"Sing O barren one, who did not bear; break forth into singing and cry aloud, you who have not been in travail! For the children of the desolate one will be more than the children of her that is married, says the Lord."
The Orthodox Study guide says the following pertaining to this passage: "The Gentiles were once barren and desolate, but the Church of the Gentiles will give birth in the Spirit to many more ...children than Israel has in the flesh.-- "will be much greater and larger than the tabernacle constructed by Moses."
Taken from Holy Thursday Evening readings: "Thus says the Lord to His countrymen: "My people, what have I done to you or how have I disturbed you? I gave light to your blind; your lepers I cleansed; a bed-ridden man I raised up. My people, what have I done for you, and how have you repaid Me?"
Holy Thursday Evening: The Antiphon--"Today the Lord's own people nailed to the Cross the One who divided the sea with a staff and led them through the wilderness. The One Who visited the plagues on Egypt for their sake they pierced with a lance to His side. The One Who rained the manna on them for nourishment they offered gall to drink."
During the next month, we will begin to ponder these words ... (Luke 23:34) "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do."
Scriptural sources are from the Orthodox Study Bible.
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