Christ is Risen! Truly he has risen!
St. John Chrysostom, reflecting on the prophecy of Isaiah, once preached “O Hades, you have been angered by encountering Him in the nether world. Hades is angered because frustrated, it is angered because it has been mocked, it is angered because it has been destroyed, it is angered because it has been reduced to naught, it is angered because it is now captive. It seized a body, and lo! it discovered God; it seized earth, and, behold! it encountered heaven; it seized the visible, and was overcome by the invisible.”
In poetic expression Chrysostom sings forth the triumph of our Savior Jesus Christ. He proclaims his resurrection from the dead. This is among the chief of all mysteries and a distinguishing mark of Christianity. Virtually all other religions, both pagan and monotheistic, acknowledge some form of life after death. Without exception, however, these other religions recognize the height of this second life to be a disembodied existence. Humans are reduced to shades, spirits, or ghosts.
Christianity alone acknowledges the promise that we will be resurrected in the flesh. That this is an essential part of our Christian faith is left in no doubt by St. Paul: “If there is no resurrection of the dead, then neither has Christ been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then empty too is our preaching; empty, too, your faith.”
But our faith is not empty and, therefore, we joyfully acknowledge on this day both Christ’s resurrection and the promise that we, too will share in it. Just as Christ’s tomb was empty following the resurrection, so too our graves will be empty on the last day when we are raised bodily from the earth.
Speaking of the mystery of the resurrection, our Lord Jesus Christ said: “Do not be amazed at this, because the hour is coming in which all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and will come out, those who have done good deeds to the resurrection of life.”
Today we celebrate with abundant joy both the reality of Christ’s resurrection and the expectation of our own.
Therefore, “come you all: enter into the joy of your Lord. You the first and you the last, receive alike your reward; you rich and you poor, dance together; you sober and you weaklings, celebrate the day; you who have kept the fast and you who have not, rejoice today. The table is richly loaded: enjoy its royal banquet. The calf is a fatted one: let no one go away hungry. All of you enjoy the banquet of faith; all of you receive the riches of his goodness. Let no one grieve over his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed; let no one weep over his sins, for pardon has shone from the grave; let no one fear death, for the death of our Savior has set us free.”
Praised be Jesus Christ, our Risen Lord, now and forever!