Seeing is believing. But what does it mean to see? Most of the work of seeing takes place not through the eyes, but throughout the mind that conjures up distance and difference from light reflecting and refracting in thousands of ways. And to make sense out of light’s perpetual dance, the human brain needs to allocate immense resources to the visual cortex. And yet, the light pouring forth from the tomb of Christ and renewing the vision of the faithful is of another order, beyond sense and beyond thought, and hence, as radical as it may sound to all of us under the sway of physical reductionism, beyond the human brain. And yet, it is more real than any thing we could possibly perceive or conceive. To the rationalist, it doesn’t make a lot of sense, just like the equation 3=1 doesn’t seem quite right except in the presence of the Triune God where the created laws of logic come to an end. For those who have beheld the resurrection of Christ, however, everything changes, for all things are filled with light, heaven, and earth, and the places beneath the earth. Such souls believe, for they have seen. How many, though, have beheld the Resurrection of Christ?
Saint Symeon the Theologian in a beautiful homily on this subject writes the following, “Most people believe in the Resurrection of Christ, but very few are they that have a clear vision thereof. Those who do not behold it cannot even worship Christ Jesus as Holy and Lord. As Scripture says, ‘No one can say the Lord Jesus except by the Holy Spirit,’ and, elsewhere, ‘God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit [noetically] and in truth.’” A vision [theoria] or [noetic] understanding of Resurrection is attained through worshiping Christ in His truth with one’s entire spirit and through the Holy Spirit saying the prayer Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me from the depths of the soul. This prayer, when said with humility, when said with love, when said with desire, and when the Spirit so wills, creates new vision, new perception, new thought, which are beyond all vision, perception and thought, and through which and in which the believer is to behold the Resurrection of Christ.
Saint Symeon continues, “That most sacred phrase which is daily on our lips does not say, ‘Having believed in the Resurrection of Christ,’ but, ‘Having beheld the Resurrection of Christ, let us worship the Holy Lord Jesus, the only sinless One.’ How then, does the Holy Spirit exhort us to say, ‘Having beheld the Resurrection of Christ,’ which we have not seen, as though we had seen it, when Christ has risen once for all a thousand years ago, and even then without anyone seeing it? …The Resurrection of Christ takes place in each of us who believes, and that not once, but every hour, so to speak, when Christ the Master arises in us, in splendid raiment and flashing forth rays of incorruption and Divinity. For the light-bearing Advent of the Spirit reveals to us, as in early morning, the Master’s Resurrection, or, rather, it grants us to see the Risen Lord Himself… Those to whom the Risen Christ has revealed Himself, to them has He assuredly become manifest spiritually; He has shown Himself to their spiritual eyes. When this happens to us through the Spirit, He raises us from the dead and gives us life. He grants us to see Him, Who is immortal and indestructible, and not only that, He grants us clearly to know Him who raises and glorifies us with Himself, as all of Divine Scripture attests.”
Saint Symeon here is speaking about the fruits of unceasing prayer, of always calling out on the Lord Jesus. Ever invoking His name, ever humbling oneself, ever fulfilling the Lord’s commandments of selfless love, the Risen Lord appears to the soul in all His glory, a glory whose brilliance no human eye can bear and whose splendor no human mind can grasp. The loving Lord knows this, so He provides new eyes, He provides a new mind, like a new heaven and a new earth, all we need to provide is our heart, all we need to offer is our will, then we too together with all those who have pleased God will chant, “Having beheld the Resurrection of Christ” and our words, like theirs, will be true.
—Hieromonk Alexios Karakallinos