We have earnestly prayed throughout the 40 days of the Great Lent, and that which we have asked of our Lord is now granted to us by His grace: having passed through the most holy days of Christ’s suffering, we are now venerating His holy and glorious Resurrection! Joyous, dear brethren, is this feast on earth; how even brighter and more triumphant must it be in heaven! O, if only we could all likewise attain that blessed day of final resurrection, partake of that unending Pascha in the kingdom of the Heavenly Father! But we will definitely attain that rapture if we look upon our entire life as a Great Lent, as a preparation for the great day of universal resurrection.
Who can now close to the Lord’s faithful servants the doors of eternal life which He had opened? Who can snatch us from the hold of the Almighty? Has not a great price been paid for us? Has not His entire blood been shed for us on the cross? Has He not given up His spirit to the Father? Now not only our Saviour’s love, but His very glory demands that we be saved. Of course we have many evil and potent enemies, just as He had had; but the forces of hell were trampled upon and exhausted on the Golgotha, and we, with the aid of grace, are left not so much with the need of combating enemies, as pursuing them, the vanquished ones, and gathering the fruits of victory.
Will the world stand up against us? It is conquered in the person of the prince of this world, and the victory that had vanquished the world – the death and atonement of our Redeemer – has become our possession; with living faith in His cross we are able to protect ourselves as with a shield against all the temptations of the world. Against mortal and sinful flesh and blood we now have the Divine Body and Blood with which we nourish ourselves in the Eucharist. Moreover, the Spirit of grace, sent down to us by the risen Christ, is a spirit of strength and force; if we do not extinguish it, we will be able to destroy the fortress of all lures of the flesh. Finally, will the prince of darkness himself dare to stand in our path to heaven? If so, he will stand to his perdition, for he is already wounded in the head by the Cross. He is now a dragon upon whom, in the words of the prophet Isaiah, even a small child, an infant in Christ, may safely lay his hand. If he will not find anything of his own in us, just as he had nothing of his own in our Saviour, then all his fearful roaring around us will be similar to the voice of the animal who guards our homes.
The risen Saviour has granted us all the resources we need for a life of piety; has sent us all the necessary means for preserving ourselves from the flesh, the world, and the devil; and after that our salvation depends on us, on our faithfulness to our Saviour and His Divine teaching. We must only refrain from burying in the soil of indifference the talents of grace that were given to us, and we must work on our salvation, while He will fulfill His promise, He will instruct us in the truth through His words and His Spirit, He will vest us in strength from above, and He will send down into our hearts great solace amid all our worldly sorrows.
It is burdensome, brethren, and difficult for those who seek the heavenly city to proceed through the wilderness of this world, – but the promised land teems with milk and honey! Shall we cast aside our ascent to heaven only because one must proceed there along the ladder of the cross? And now, in the land of exile and tribulations, it is a solace to sing the song of victory over death; how delightful will it be to celebrate the great day of renewal over there, in the new land of promise, where to the joyous cry of “Christ is risen!’ the heavens and earth and all of creation will answer “Truly He is risen!”. Let us hurry, dear brethren, over there in spirit before we arrive in the flesh! Why sit idly on the shores of the river of Babylon and be content with solely remembering the celestial homeland? Behold! The royal doors are open, and the altar of grace is seen by all: this is an invitation to come home, this is an invitation to the feast! Let us hurry, dear brethren, let us hurry: the risen Saviour summons us! Amen.
Christ is risen!