Paschal Sermon of Saint John Chrysostom
Is there anyone who is devout and a lover of God?
Come, and receive this bright and beautiful Feast of feasts!
Is there anyone who is a wise servant?
Rejoice, as you enter into the joy of your Lord!
Is there anyone who is weary from fasting?
Come, and receive your reward!
Is there anyone who has labored from the first hour?
Accept today your fair wages!
Is there anyone who came after the third hour?
Be glad, as you celebrate the Feast!
Is there anyone who came after the sixth hour?
Have no doubts, for nothing is being held back!
Is there anyone who delayed until the ninth hour?
Come forward, without any hesitation!
Is there anyone who came up only at the eleventh hour?
Do not be afraid because of your lateness – for the honor and generosity of the Lord are unsurpassed.
He accepts the last as well as the first. He gives rest to those who arrive at the eleventh hour, as well as to those who labored from the first.
He is as merciful to the last as He is gracious to the first. He shows His generosity to the one, and His kindness to the other. He accepts the deed and welcomes the intention.
Therefore, enter all of you into the joy of your Lord! Both first and last – receive the reward; rich and poor – dance and sing together; sober and heedless – honor this day; those who have fasted and those who have not – enjoy the Feast today!
The table is filled, everyone share in the splendor! The calf is fatted, and no one must go away hungry. Come, one and all, and receive the feast of faith! Come, one and all, and receive the riches of loving-kindness!
Let us not lament our poverty, for the universal Kingdom has been revealed. Let us not despair over our failings, for forgiveness has sprung up from the grave. Let us not fear death, for the death of the Savior has set us all free.
By being held in its power He extinguished it, and by descending into Hell, He made Hell captive. He irritated Hell when it tasted His flesh. And the prophet Isaiah, foretelling this, exclaimed, “Hell was angered, when it encountered You in the lower regions.”
Hell was irritated, for it was wiped out. Hell was irritated, for it was mocked. Hell was irritated, for it was vanquished. Hell was irritated, for it was bound in chains.
Hell took a body, and met God face to face. Hell took earth, and came face to face with Heaven. Hell took what it saw, and was struck down by what it did not see.
O Death, where is your sting? O Hell, where is your victory? Christ is risen!and Hell is overthrown. Christ is risen! and the demons are fallen. Christ is risen!and the angels rejoice. Christ is risen! and life reigns. Christ is risen! and there are no dead left in the tombs!
For Christ, when He was raised from the dead, became the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep. To Him is all glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.