Sunday, May 1, 2016

St. John’s Homily for Easter

Easter is upon us. Lent is over, fasting is behind us. We are now rejoicing because Jesus rose from the dead. He has saved mankind. Easter day, being the high point of Holy Week, is also a day of prayer, where the faithful, after the Vigil, stay on to celebrate the Divine Liturgy. St. John Chrysostom’s Homily for Easter shows the significance of this ecclesiastical festivity:

‘Whoever is devout and loves God, let him enjoy this fair and shining festival. Whoever is a grateful servant, let him enter unto the joy of his Lord. Have any wearied themselves with fasting. Let them now enjoy their payment. Has anyone labored since the first hour? Let him today receive his due. Did any come after the third hour? Let them feast with gratitude. Did any arrive after the sixth hour? Let them not hesitate, for there is no penalty. Did any delay until after the ninth hour? Let them approach without hesitating. Did any arrive only for the eleventh hour? Let them not fear because of their lateness, for the Lord is generous and receives the last as the first: He gives rest to the worker of the eleventh hour as to those of the first. He has pity on the latter, He cares for the former. He gives to the one, He is generous to the other. He accepts the work done, He welcomes the intention. He honors the achievement, He praises the purpose.
Therefore all of you enter into the joy of our Lord: first and last, enjoy your reward. Rich and poor dance together. Sober and slothful honor the day. Fasters and non-fasters be glad today. The table is full; all of you enjoy yourselves. The calf is fatted; let none go away hungry. All of you enjoy the banquet of the faith. All of you enjoy the richness of His goodness. Let no one grieve at his poverty, for the kingdom for all has been revealed. Let no one bewail his faults, for forgiveness has risen from the tomb.
Let no one fear death, for the Saviror’s death has freed us. By enduring it, He quenched it. He who descended into Hell has despoiled Hell. He embittered it when it tasted His flesh, as Isaiah proclaimed in prophecy: “Death”, he said, “was embittered when it met You there below.” Embittered, for it was destroyed. Embittered, for it was mocked. Embittered, for it was slain. Embittered, for it was wiped out. Embittered, for it was bound fast. It received a body and came face to face with God. It received earth and met heaven. It received what it saw and fell through what it did not see.’[1]

[1] Papavassiliou, Vassilios, Meditations for Holy Week: Dying and Rising with Christ, (Indiana, Ancient Faith Publishing, 2014), pp.126-129. 

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