Dear Beloved in Christ,
Kali Anástasi! This is the final time that we will use this greeting! Our anticipation has come to its fullness, as the greeting “Blessed Resurrection!” gives way to the Paschal Greeting.
The Vesperal Liturgy this morning is called the Proti Anástasi, the “First Resurrection,” because the Church is so eagerly anticipating Jesus’ glorious resurrection that she can’t help but celebrate on this morning. We will sing the joyful hymn, “Arise, O God,” ringing bells and scattering bay leaves throughout the church.
In anticipation our Lord’s resurrection, I offer the Paschal homily of St. Melito of Sardis, which so beautifully depicts Christ’s harrowing of Hades and the liberation of the captives held therein.
Once more, Kali Anástasi!
PASCHAL HOMILY OF ST. MELITO OF SARDIS (c. 160)
[Christ] rose up from the dead, and cried aloud with this voice: “Who is he who contends with me? Let him stand in opposition to me. I set the condemned man free; I gave the dead man life; I raised up the one who had been entombed. Who is my opponent?”
“I,” He says, “am the Christ. I am the one who destroyed death, and triumphed over the enemy, and trampled Hades under foot, and bound the strong one, and carried off man to the heights of heaven.
“I,” He says, “am the Christ.”
“Therefore, come, all families of men, you who have been befouled with sins, and receive forgiveness for your sins. I am your forgiveness. I am the passover of your salvation. I am the lamb which was sacrificed for you. I am your ransom. I am your light. I am your savior. I am your resurrection. I am your king. I am leading you up to the heights of heaven. I will show you the eternal Father. I will raise you up by my right hand.”
This is the one who made the heavens and the earth, and who in the beginning created man, who was proclaimed through the law and prophets, who became human through the virgin, who was hanged upon a tree, who was buried in the earth, who was resurrected from the dead, and who ascended to the heights of heaven, who sits at the right hand of the Father, who has authority to judge and to save everything, through whom the Father created everything from the beginning of the world to the end of the age.
This is the alpha and the omega. This is the beginning and the end–an indescribable beginning and an incomprehensible end. This is the Christ. This is the king. This is Jesus. This is the general. This is the Lord. This is the one who rose up from the dead. This is the one who sits at the right hand of the Father. He bears the Father and is borne by the Father, to whom be the glory and the power forever. Amen.