Paschal Homily by Archimandrite John Krestiankin, 1993
Archimandrite John (Krestiankin)
Archimandrite John KrestiankinNow all things are filled with light: heaven, and earth, and the nether regions… Christ is Risen!
Children of God! I greet you from an abundance of unearthly joy, scorching with the power of these divine words: Christ is Risen! The holy fire of this saving good news, flashing out once again in a bright flame from the Lord’s Holy Sepulcher, has poured across the world.
And the Church of God, overflowing with the light of this fire, grants it to us: Christ is Risen!
Brothers and sisters, beloved in Christ, my friends! You yourselves have, of course, noticed that of all the many great and joyous Christian feast days, the bright feast of Christ’s Holy Resurrection stands out as especially joyous—the Feast of feasts and Triumph of triumphs!
There is no service in our Orthodox Church more magnificent, more penetrating, than the Paschal Matins. That is why all the faithful so earnestly go to God’s Church on Pascha night.
The Paschal services are truly like a magnificent feast which the Lord has prepared for all who come under the grace-filled vaults of His House.
Think well about the content of St. John Chrysostom’s “Catechetical Homily”! The Lord receives with fatherly affection and magnanimity those who love Him with all their being: “If any have wrought from the first hour”—that is, those who have followed in His divine footsteps unwaveringly from their youth up.
But neither does He turn away those who have overcome the doubt in their souls, and come closer to God in adulthood, or even in old age. “If anyone has arrived even at the eleventh hour, let them not fear on account of tardiness… He has mercy upon the last and cares for the first; to the one he gives, and to the other he is gracious. He both honors the work and praises the intention.”
No doubt, all of you who were in church on the Paschal night experienced extraordinary exaltation… Our souls rejoiced, overflowing with feelings of gratefulness to our Lord and Savior for granting us eternal life. After all, the risen Christ has raised the race of man from earth to Heaven, and given an elevated and noble meaning to man’s existence.
Man’s soul thirsts for an eternal life of happiness. The soul seeks it… And that is why people hasten to God’s temple for the bright Matins service—not only the faithful, but even those whose consciousness is far from the Christian religion.
They come not just to have a look at the solemnity of Christian services. The soul, given to every person at birth by God, is drawn to the light of the unsetting Sun of Righteousness, and yearns for the truth.
Meanwhile, the faithful feel a great abundance of the bright joy of Christ’s Resurrection with particular strength on this radiant night.
Through his Resurrection, Christ allows people to comprehend the truth of His Divinity, the truth of His lofty teaching, the saving power of His death. The Resurrection of Christ is the completion of His life’s podvig. There could have been no other finality, for this is the direct consequence of the moral significance of the life of Christ. If Christ be not risen, says the Apostle Paul, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain (1 Cor. 15:14). But Christ is risen, and has resurrected all mankind along with Himself!
The Savior has brought perfect joy to people on earth. Therefore, on Pascha night we hear the words of this song, and participate in the singing: “Thy Resurrection O Christ, Our Savior, the Angels in heaven sing; enable us on earth to glorify Thee with purity of heart.”
Before His suffering on the Cross, He prayed to His Heavenly Father that people be granted this great joy: Sanctify them through thy truth… that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves (Jn. 17:17, 13).
And now, with the Resurrection of Christ, a new world of sanctity and true blessedness has been opened to man.
During His earthly life, the Savior many times pronounced these words so priceless to the believing soul: Because I live, ye shall live also (Jn. 14:19) My peace I give unto you (Jn. 14:27). These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full (Jn. 15:11).
A new life has opened for man. He has been given the opportunity to die to sin, in order to rise with Christ and live with Him.
The Apostle Paul says in his epistle to the Romans, For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection… Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him (Rom. 6:5, 8).
“A Pascha which has opened to us the gates of Paradise,” we sing in the Paschal canon.
There is no brighter joy than our Paschal joy. For we rejoice that eternal life has been opened to us in the Resurrection.
Our Paschal joy is the joy that comes from the transfiguration (the change) of our whole life into incorruptible life; the joy of our yearning for undying goodness, and incorruptible beauty.
We rejoice now in the completion of a great mystery—the Resurrection of Christ, the victory of the Lifegiver over death! Our Savior has been victorious over evil and darkness, and that is why the Paschal service of our Orthodox Church is so exultingly joyous.
The faithful have been waiting for this solemn service, preparing themselves for it during the long weeks of the forty-day fast. Naturally, their hearts are now filled with inexplicable joy.
The profound meaning of Christ’s Resurrection is the eternal life that He has bestowed upon his followers. Now for two thousand years his followers steadfastly believe not only that He is risen, but they also believe in their own future resurrection to eternal life.
During His earthly life, Christ the Savior spoke about Himself many times as the bearer of life and resurrection. However, at the time these words of the Divine Teacher were incomprehensible, not only to the people who heard them, but also to His disciples and Apostles.
The meaning of these words was understood only after Christ’s Resurrection. Only then did the Apostles and disciples understand that He is truly the Master of life and Conqueror of death. And they went forth to preach unto the entire world.
We, my beloved, greet each other with joy on these days, saying, Christ is Risen! And we shall greet each other thus for forty days, until the day of the Lord’s Ascension.
Only three words! But these wondrous words express unwavering faith in the truth most joyous to the human heart—the truth of our immortality.
Christ is Life!
He spoke of Himself many times as precisely bearer of life and resurrection, as the source of life eternal, unending for those who will believe in Him.
Christ is Risen! and may our souls rejoice in the Lord.
Christ is Risen! and the fear of death vanishes.
Christ is Risen! and our hearts are filled with the joy of faith, that we will be resurrected after Him.
Celebrating Pascha means knowing the power and greatness of Christ’s Resurrection with our whole heart.
Celebrating Pascha means becoming a new person.
Celebrating Pascha means thanking and praising God with our whole heart for His unspeakable gift—the gift of resurrection and love.
We exalt and joyfully celebrate these days, sending up praise and glorifying the podvig of the victory of Divine love.
Christ is Risen!!!
Let us open wide our hearts to Him Who suffered and died, and rose for our sakes. He will enter in and fill our lives with Himself and His Light, transforming our souls. In answer to this, we strive with love toward Him along our way of the cross; for our resurrection into eternal life also undoubtedly shines at its end.
Celebrating Pascha means becoming a new person. This salvific state of soul, my beloved, is what I wish for you with my whole heart.
08 / 04 / 2010
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