Today we see the power of evil. The might of evil is revealed. We know that the resurrection is coming. We know that Christ will defeat death. We know that Christ will defeat evil and hatred and sin and will grant remission of sins and life eternal. But today – this one day – is filled with evil. This day is filled with darkness. Our church calendar has many red-lettered days. We commemorate many very gruesome events. The early Christian martyrs – and even in recent times – not only died and were not only killed for the Faith, they were tortured and put to a much painful and gruesome death. But there is only one day in the church year that is filled with darkness and is all black and all night.
But in the might and power of the evil which reigns over this day, is revealed its nature. It is temporary. It is transient. It is but for a fleeting moment. For when Christ defeats death, the victory of Him who is Good is not passing nor is it momentary but its eternal and everlasting. And His goodness endures forever!
On this day we see just how far evil can go. Just how much evil can do. Not only does man take his hatred and anger and cruelty and direct it at man, but today he takes all of that and directs it at Him who is the source of all good and life and every virtue: he directs it at God. He condemns God to death! And all of that was done out of their adherence to the Law: “We have a law, and by that law he ought to die, because he has made himself the Son of God” (John 19:7).
All evil is temporary but that doesn’t mean that it’s not painful. That doesn’t mean that if we ridicule someone, or mock someone, or speak evil against someone, or offend someone with our words or deeds – just because it’s temporary, it doesn’t mean that we haven’t hurt those people. And as Christ says at one place in the gospels, if we have done it to any one of these, the least of these, you have done it to Me. You have crucified Me in our thoughts.
It is that pain that Christ takes upon Himself on the Cross. He takes upon Himself my pain and your pain and the pain and hurt of the world. And this evening we bow down before the Plastanica, the Winding Sheet, in Orthodox churches worldwide, for He has taken our pain and hurt, our burdens and He grants unto us everlasting life.