Today, on Easter Sunday, we celebrate the great event of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and His victory over the powers of death. “Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen! Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice! Christ is risen, and life reigns!” as we hear Saint John Chrysostom proclaim in his Paschal Homily.
The Church refers to Easter as the Pascha of the Lord because it sees His Resurrection as a new Passover. The word “Pascha” comes from the Hebrew word “Pesach,” which refers to the Jewish Passover from slavery in Egypt. Led by the prophet Moses, God delivered His people from slavery and led them into freedom in the Promised Land.
The early Christians understood the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ to be a new Passover, which frees us from the slavery to sin and leads us into true freedom. He is the true Lamb who has been sacrificed for us, and through His death He has conquered death forever.
This Passover of the Lord is one that we are invited to share in. The liturgical texts for Holy Week and Pascha speak not so much about historical events, but repeatedly refer to “today,” reminding us that Christ’s victory over death is a present reality and something that we need to enter into. For, through our baptism, we too have died with Him and have been given the promise of a new life in Him.
Christ has risen from the dead,
by death He has trampled on death,
and to those in the graves He has given life.