The Patience of the Orthodox (Pascha)

The Patience of the Orthodox (Pascha) April 4, 2021

King of Kings

Patience will bring the final victory over sin, death, and devils.

Easter joy to Christians celebrating the Feast! For the Orthodox, the ancient churches, Pascha is still four weeks in the future. The Son will rise in the East as always, but in His perfect timing.  The Orthodox are patient. Our day is coming. Meanwhile, we rejoice with those who rejoice, but perhaps all Christians can learn from the Orthodox faithful.

Patience is much needed just now. We are encouraged by every bit of advertising and technology to haste, to judgement, to action. We should wait, but too often we do not. Each Lent, I refrain from most activity on social media and each year I am reminded how little the cosmos needs my immediate response to anything. Following decades of thought, I am still working on the meaning of one word (“but”) at the end of Republic. That should be a clue: harder problems might take even more time for full consideration and thoughtful commentary!

First news about an event is often not the whole truth. “Jesus is crucified, dead, and buried.” This was and is true, but not the whole truth. No living human saw the harrowing of Hell and the triumph over the devils. When Christ died, a great cosmic change occurred that made Pascha necessary and inevitable. His friends had only to wait a short time to see this greater truth.

Consider another possibility: many problems have unexpected solutions if we do not try to solve them. The followers and friends of Jesus saw Him killed and surely must have wondered what to do. Many would end up wandering off to Galilee to do some fishing. Immediately, his best friends huddled together in hiding. What plans were hatched? What strategies? What use could they make of the two swords Jesus had asked them to buy?

Pascha came and the problem was solved. Thank God the apostles did not have Twitter to give their hot takes on Holy Saturday. Simon the Zealot: “We lost a leader, not the war. Get ready! ”  The sons of Thunder account: “Let fire come down on the hypocrites in Jerusalem!” James: “Has anyone seen Peter or Judas? Many called. Few are chosen.” Whatever they thought, said, or did, Pascha Sunday came and all was well and more than well. Death was defeated. Jesus was alive.

This was not a solution that they anticipated or could have precipitated. We do not know if they waited because of fear or simply because they had nothing to do. Perhaps a few of them, Mary, John, had been with Jesus enough to wait in wisdom.

Waiting can be wise. This Orthodox virtue is at odds with modernity. Waiting is not a failure to act, dithering. Instead, proper waiting is judicious: when only a miracle can save you, then waiting for a miracle is reasonable. The miracle sometimes comes and when it does not, then the Faithful know that history must be better so. When the glory arose from the Church of the Holy Wisdom, a fire rising up to Heaven, just before Constantinople fell to the infidels, then the Faithful saw and knew. The Greek Orthodox would wait four hundred years before they would govern themselves again. The last service in Hagia Sophia still has not ended, but the Faithful wait. It will happen in God’s good time.

Pascha is coming for the patient.




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