Sentenced to Immortality (Part III)
A Paschal Homily by St Justin (Popovic)
In our human world, death is the greatest torment and inhumane horror. Freedom from this torment and horror is salvation. Such a salvation was given the race of man by the Vanquisher of death – the Risen God-Man. He related to us all the mystery of salvation by His Resurrection. To be saved means to assure our body and soul of immortality and life eternal. How do we attain this? By no other way than by a theanthropic life, a new life, a life in the Risen Lord, in and by the Lord’s Resurrection.
For us Christians, our life on earth is a school in which we learn how to assure ourselves of resurrection and life eternal. For what use is this life if we cannot acquire by it life eternal? But, in order to be resurrected with the Lord Christ, man must first suffer with Him, and live His life as his own. If he does this, then on Pascha he can say with Saint Gregory the Theologian: “Yesterday I was crucified with Him, today I live with Him; yesterday I was buried with Him, today I rise with Him” (Troparion 2, Ode 3, Matins, Pascha).
Christ’s Four Gospels are summed up in only four words [in English it is seven words; FJW]. They are:
“Christ is Risen! Indeed He is risen!”
In each of these words is a Gospel, and in the Four Gospels is all the meaning of all God’s world, visible and invisible. When all knowledge and all the thoughts of men are concentrated in the cry of the Paschal salutation, “Christ is Risen!”, then immortal joy embraces all beings and in joy responds: “Indeed He is risen!”
Verses from The Paschal Stikhera
Today, a sacred Pascha is revealed to us:
a new and holy Pascha,
a mystical Pascha,
a Pascha worthy of veneration,
a Pascha which is Christ the Redeemer,
a blameless Pascha,
a great Pascha,
a Pascha of the faithful,
a Pascha which has opened to us the gates of Paradise,
a Pascha which sanctifies all the faithful.
Pascha of beauty,
the Pascha of the Lord,
A Pascha worthy of honor has dawned for us.
Let us embrace each other joyously!
Pascha, ransom from affliction!
For today, as from a bridal chamber,
Christ has shown forth from the tomb,
and filled the women with joy saying:
“Proclaim the glad tidings to the Apostles!”
This is the day of resurrection!
Let us be illumined by the feast!
Let us embrace each other!
Let us call “Brothers” even those that hate us,
and forgive all by 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!
“Give me a word!”
People rejoice, all nations listen: Christ God is risen! Let us rejoice! Dance all ye stars and sing all ye mountains: Christ God is risen! Let us rejoice! Whisper ye woods and blow all ye winds:
Christ God is risen! Let us rejoice! O seas proclaim and roar all ye beasts: Christ God is risen! Let us rejoice! Buzz all ye bees and sing all ye birds: Christ God is risen! Let us rejoice! O little lambs rejoice and be merry: Christ God is risen! Let us rejoice! Nightengales joyous, lending your song: Christ God is risen! Let us rejoice! Ring, O ye bells, let everyone hear: Christ God is risen! Let us rejoice! All angels join us, singing this song: Christ God is risen! Let us rejoice! Come down ye heavens, draw near the earth: Christ God is risen! Let us rejoice! Glory to Thee, God Almighty! Christ God is risen! Let us rejoice! Glory to Thee, God Almighty! Christ God is risen! Let us rejoice!
-St Nikolai (Velimirovich)