March 31, 2018 - The Great Vigil of Easter

St John Chrysostom’s Easter Homily (circa 400 CE)

Are there any devout lovers of God, let them enjoy this beautiful, radiant Feast of Feasts!

Are there any who are grateful servants, let them rejoice and enter into the joy of their Lord!

Are there any weary with fasting, let them now receive their wages!

If any have labored from the first hour, let them receive their just reward.

If any have come at the third hour, let them with gratitude join the feast.

If any have arrived at the sixth hour, let them not doubt; for they shall suffer no loss.

If any have delayed until the ninth hour, let them not hesitate and draw near.

If any have arrived even at the eleventh hour, let them not fear on account of their delay.

For the Lord is gracious, and receives the last even as the first: He gives rest to those who come at the eleventh hour, just as to those who have labored from the first.

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.

Enter all of you, therefore, into the joy of our Lord, and whether first or last receive your reward. 0h rich and poor, one with another, dance for joy! 0h you diligent and you negligent, celebrate the Day!

You that have fasted and you that have disregarded the fast, rejoice today! The table is richly-laden; feast royally, all of you!

The calf is fatted; let no one go forth hungry!

Let all partake of the Feast of Faith! Let all receive the riches of God’s goodness.

Let no one grieve their poverty of Spirit, for the Universal Kingdom has been revealed.

Let no one mourn their transgressions, for Forgiveness has risen from the grave!

Let no one fear Death, for the Savior’s death has set us free!

He who was taken by Death has annihilated it!

He descended into Hell, and took Hell captive!

Hell was enraged when it tasted of His flesh!

Isaiah foretold this when he exclaimed, “Hell was enraged by encountering Him below.”

Hell was enraged, for it was abolished! It was enraged, for it was mocked! It was enraged, for it was destroyed! It was enraged, for it was vanquished! It was enraged, for it was now made captive!

Hell took a body, and met God face to face! It took earth, and encountered Heaven! It took what it saw, but was overcome by what it had not seen!

“Oh Death, where is thy sting? 0h Hell, where is thy victory?”

Christ is risen, and you o death are overthrown!

Christ is risen, and the demons are cast down!

Christ is risen, and the Angels rejoice!

Christ is risen, and Life is liberated!

Christ is risen, and the tomb is emptied of its dead!

For Christ, being raised from the dead, has become the first-fruits of them that slept.

To Him be glory and dominion through all the ages of ages!