From Saint John Chrysostom:
An Instruction on the Holy and Great Sunday of Pascha,
on the Joy of the Resurrection and the Consolation of Sinners
This is the day of rejoicing and gladness, brethren; the day of happiness and salvation, the day of illumination and sanctification, the day of peace and reconciliation, the day of regeneration and renewal for our souls. It is the feast of feasts and the festival of festivals, the honourable, holy, and luminous day of the Resurrection of Christ. On this day Christ also raised us up, who were laid low by sin. On this day Christ also brought us back to life, who were dead through transgressions. On this day He opened paradise, that we might take delight in the tree of life, which is His precious and life-giving Flesh and Blood, whereby we are purified, sanctified, enlightened, and renewed. Therefore I entreat you, brethren, that each one examine himself, and so let him partake of the precious Body and drink of the Blood. For he that eats and drinks unworthily, eats and drinks unto sin, not discerning the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. But who shall tell of the mighty acts of the Lord? Who shall make all His praises to be heard? Who is equal to the task of telling and showing and worthily declaring the grace of this day, hymning it and marveling at its power and greatness? How unsearchable are the judgments of our God, and His ways past finding out!
Yesterday we were dejected, but today we are radiant. Yesterday we had weeping and sighing, but today we have joy and gladness. Yesterday we were in low spirits, but today we are cheerful. Truly, ineffable is the grace of this day, brethren; unutterable is the gift of this mystery; unfathomable, indeed, is the surpassing abundance of God’s greatness, His love for us, His compassion and condescension. For Christ gave Himself for the redemption of us all; He has brought us from death to life, from darkness to light, from bondage to freedom, from enmity into everlasting love. He hath redeemed us from the curse of sin, being made a curse for us, that we might receive sonship; that we might no longer be slaves, but free; no longer passionate, but passionless; no longer lovers of the world, but lovers of God; walking not after the flesh, but after the spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the spirit, the things of the spirit. The Lord has enabled us to keep the feast spiritually, and to walk spiritually. He has charged us to live in holiness and righteousness, in love and unity, in meekness and peace, in patience and kindness. He has sanctified us and glorified us by the Holy Spirit, that we might walk in newness of life. But what shall we render unto the Lord for all that He hath rendered unto us? What can we give God that is worthy of His majesty, glory, and kingship? What shall we offer that is worthy of, or equal to, His exceedingly great gift and grace?
Beloved, let us give thanks to the Lord; let us give thanks and glorify His great mercy toward us; let us give thanks, and let us fall down before the Lord and worship Him. As gifts let us bring forth the myrrh of our hymns, with fear and reverence. For the Lord is goodly and loves man; He accepts all, even if our offerings are small and poor.
Let us, then, brethren, love Him Who in His grace first loved us. Let us die for Him Who freely died for us. Let us follow His holy commandments. Let us purify ourselves from every defilement of flesh and spirit. Let us offer our God good works, faith, charity, hope, patience, heartfelt contrition, compunction, and tears, purifying our consciences and mortifying our earthly members from fornication, impurity, passions, evil desires and avarice. Let us serve the Lord with understanding, constancy, patience, and diligence. Let us bear in our breasts the love of our true God and Saviour. Let us sing a new song to Him; let us all sing together. Let us clap our hands and shout unto God with a voice of rejoicing, for the Lord Most High is terrible, a great King over all the earth.
Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised. Great is the Lord, and of His greatness there is no end. Great is our Lord, and great His strength. For He has stricken and utterly defeated our haughty and arrogant enemy, the devil; He has trampled down death; He has raised all and has granted us eternal life.
Yesterday we were buried with Christ; today let us arise with Him. Yesterday we were crucified with Him; today let us share His glory. Therefore, brethren, let us all delight in the sweet gifts of this fair and radiant festival. Let us enter rejoicing into the joy of our Lord, as servants good and wise. Ye kings and hierarchs, princes and subjects, priests and deacons, monks and laymen, soldiers and civilians, old men and youths, men and women, rich and poor, slaves and freemen, glorify and exalt the Lord our God, and extol this beautiful day, this bright feast; marvel at it and honour it.
Ye who have fasted and laboured, come now with rejoicing and receive your denarius. All ye who have toiled from the first hour, receive today your due reward. All ye who have come after the third hour, join in the feast today with gratitude and rejoicing. As many as have arrived after the sixth hour, have no doubts. Ye who have tarried until the ninth hour, come without any shame. And if any have delayed their arrival until the eleventh hour, be not afraid because of your lateness, and do not be downcast because of it.
The Master is kind and merciful in rendering compensation. He receives the last even as the first. He gives rest to him, too, who only came at the eleventh hour, as well as to him who has toiled from the first. He shows mercy upon the last and rewards the first; to one He gives, and upon the other he bestows gifts. He welcomes the thought and honours the deed; He accepts the love and praises the wish; He regards the effort and loves the good desire.
Come ye all to Him, therefore, and be enlightened. Whether first, later, or last, receive ye all your reward together. Ye rich and ye poor, exalt with one another. Ye sober and ye heedless, honour the day. Ye that have kept the fast and ye that have not, rejoice today. The table is richly laden; let no one go away hungry or deprived. Enjoy the riches of His goodness, for Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us. Draw ye all from the inexhaustible fountain of our God and Saviour, and be glad. O taste and see that the Lord is good. God is the Lord, and hath appeared unto us.
Let no one grieve over his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed. Let no one bewail his transgressions, for forgiveness has shone forth from the tomb. Let no one fear death, for our Saviour’s death has set us free.
Let us, therefore, eliminate enmity and hard feelings against one another, brethren; let us forgive all on the Resurrection. To them that hate us, let us say: Ye are our brothers; and let us embrace them with love. For Christ is our reconciliation; He has reconciled the heavenly and the earthly, joining all in unity, and has destroyed the dividing wall of enmity by His flesh.
He gave peace to His disciples and apostles; He left them His peace, and through them He has made us also children of peace and love.
Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world, He said; having borne the sins of the world, I have overcome the prince of this world. For Christ our God has saved us and has delivered us from hell; He rescued us from the devil’s oppression and liberated us from his bondange.
Hades was embittered upon tasting the precious and holy Flesh of the Master. As Isaias prophesied, Hades was embittered, because it was put into bonds. It took a body, and it discovered God. It took what it saw, and was overcome by what it did not see. Death swallowed unawares, and after swallowing found out Whom it had swallowed. It swallowed a life, and was crushed by Life. It swallowed one like all the others, and lost with this One all others. It seized Him as a lion, but it broke its teeth. On account of sin death had prevailed, but in Christ it found no sin, neither was guilt found in His mouth.
Thus, the time is ripe to say: O death, where is thy sting? O Hades, where is thy victory? Christ is risen, and thou art overthrown. Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice. Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen. Christ is risen, and life abounds. Christ is risen, and the dead are lifted up with Him. Christ is risen, and we are delivered from corruption. Christ is risen, and we are freed from the curse. Christ is risen, and we are risen with Him. Christ is risen, and we have come back to life. Christ is risen from the dead and become the first fruits of them that were dead. To Him be glory and dominion, adoration and majesty, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.