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Easter Morning Sermon by St. John Chrysostom
This Easter morning sermon was given by St. John Chrystostom back in 387 AD. His words carry as much weight today:
Whoever you are, come, celebrate this shining happening, the festival of light. You the devout, God's unshakeable lover and you the servant brimming with thanks. Come walk into the joy of your Lord. And you the impoverished faster, come for your wages. You who began before sunrise, come for your stipend. . .
To this one he gives, and on that one he showers rewards. Whether you were a success or whether you only tried, he will greet you, make much of your effort, extol your intention.
Let everybody, therefore, crowd into the exhilaration of our Savior. You the first and you the last: equally heaped with blessings. You the rich and you the poor: celebrate together. You the careful and you the careless: enjoy this day of days. You that have kept the fast, and you that have broken it: be happy today. . .
No one need mourn uncountable falls, be they over and over. For forgiveness itself has reared from the tomb. No one need fear death; for our Savior himself has died and sets us free. He confronted death in his own person, and blasted it to nothing. He made it defunct by the very taste of his own flesh. This is exactly what Isaiah foretold when he declared "hell is harrowed by encounter with him."
Of course it is harrowed. For now hell is a joke, finished and done with. Harrowed because now it is taken prisoner. It snatched at a body and incredible-lit upon God. It gulped the earth and gagged on heaven. It seized what it saw, and was crushed by what it failed to see.
Poor death, where is your sting? Poor hell, where is your triumph? Christ steps out of the tomb and you are reduced to nothing! Christ rises and the angels are wild with delight. Christ rises and life is set free. Christ rises and graves are emptied of dead. Oh yes, for he broke from the tomb like a flower, a beautiful fruit: the first fruit of those already gone. All glory be his, all success and power . . . forever and ever.