Elder Cleopa of Romania
Today we celebrate the feast of feasts and the holiday of holidays. Today there is spiritual joy throughout the entire Christian world. Today our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ has illumined everything through His Resurrection. Let heaven and earth rejoice together, and the earth be glad, because the light of the Resurrection of the Lord has filled with light heaven, and earth, and hell, and all the ones enslaved in the bonds of death, in the hope of the Resurrection, our Savior brought them into eternal joy when He descended into Hades. Today Jesus Christ, our Life, through His Resurrection established a new foundation of humanity and crowned all the holy miracles He worked while on earth.
Today is the day of the Resurrection of the Lord, the victory of reconciliation, the undermining of war, the crushing of death, and the defeating of the devil. It is meet and right for us today to repeat the words of the prophet Isaiah: “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory (Hosea 13:14, 1 Cor. 15:55)?” On this day our Master Jesus Christ smashed the gates of brass and the name of death itself; He made it to no longer be called death, but sleep. Before Christ’s coming and before the economy of the Cross, the name of death was frightening. And after Christ our God led Himself as a sacrifice to the Cross for us and resurrected from the dead, He transformed death into sleep, as a lover of men.
Do you see how bright the victory of the resurrection of Christ is? We have been given countless blessings through the Resurrection of our Lord. The deceit of the devils perished through the Resurrection. Through the Resurrection we counter death. Through the Resurrection we overlook the present life. Through the Resurrection we strive for the heavenly reward. Through the Resurrection, while clothed in our bodies we draw nearer to the bodiless ones if we so desire.
Today the splendid victories took place. Today Christ our God conquered death and He undermined the tyrannical demon, and He offered us the path towards our salvation through His Resurrection. So let us all rejoice and exalt, for our Savior conquered death and hell and worked everything for our salvation.
Listen to what our godly father St. John Chrysostom says: “Let us not be careless and ungrateful towards the blessings that we receive through the Resurrection of our Lord. Neither should we say, ‘Look, Great Lent is over, now we no longer need to worry about anything.’ For now more than before, we have to be very careful with our souls so that by strengthening the body we do not render the soul more helpless. That is, by caring for the servant (body), not to become careless towards the master (soul). For our spiritual labor is for the rest of our life.” He also says, “We are freed from the burden of fasting, but we didn’t also renounce the fruit of the fast. The efforts of laboring are over, but don’t let go of the ambition for doing good deeds. The fasting period is over, but let the reverence remain. The bodily fast passed, but not the spiritual, which is better than the other, and the former was done for the latter.”
Through spiritual fasting we understand the working of good deeds, that all of us who were baptized in the name of the Holy Trinity and who believe in Christ, Who resurrected from the dead, are all obligated to do. Before all good deeds that help the salvation of our souls the most, Christian love comes first. Without love, without forgiveness, and without almsgiving there is no salvation, there is no Pascha, there is no joy in the soul, and there is no resurrection from the death of our sins, as well as no peace in our hearts.
“The day of Resurrection, let us be illumined with the feast, and let us embrace one another. Let us say, brethren, even to those that hate us, let us forgive all things in the Resurrection, and so let us cry, Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life.”
We should scrutinize all of our thoughts, all of our feelings, and all of our behaviors very well, and then approach the Holy Chalice with a broken and humble heart, with our hearts filled with faith and love for the Cup of Holy Communion, in order to receive Christ our God, Who is always present and ready to come and dwell among us, as it says so clearly in His Holy Gospel: “Whoever eats My Body and drinks My Blood abides in Me and I in him” (John 6:56).
Are we determined to do this? It is for our benefit, for the benefit of our earthly and heavenly life. For it is only if we are united with our Lord Jesus Christ that we will be able to understand better and deeper the true meaning of our life on earth. We will surely embark victoriously on the path of the eternal, holy, and heavenly life.
Today is the Passover of our Lord. Today Christ, our Life, conquered death, hell, and the devil. Today the gates of Paradise and of the Kingdom of Heaven have opened to us. Today the angels rejoice together and worship God.
Therefore, let us put away all evil, all sadness, and all sin from our homes and from our hearts, and let us welcome the Resurrected Christ with joy. Let us worship the Cross upon which Christ was crucified. Let us kiss the Tomb from whence our Lord resurrected. Let us follow our Savior with faith and hope, together with the Mother of God, with the Apostles, with all the Saints, with the Holy Fathers, and all our ancestors. Let us spiritually kiss each other, brother and brother; let us reconcile; let us love one another, for today we acquired forgiveness and salvation through the Resurrection. Let no one be sad; let no one lose faith and hope due to the troubles of life, for the Resurrected Christ is with us. We carry Him inside ourselves, and He will always dwell with us, if we remain in His love and if we keep His commandments.
With this life-giving faith that gives us power and victory, let us chant together the Hymn of the Resurrection: “Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs, bestowing life”. Amen.