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April 9, 2023

Fourth Homily for Palm Sunday (Archpriest Rodion Putyatin)

By Archpriest Rodion Putyatin

"By raising Lazarus from the dead before Your Passion, You confirmed the universal resurrection, O Christ God!"

Yesterday we sang this song and today we repeat it. Let us now deal with it again, and pay more attention to its meaning.

"By raising Lazarus from the dead before Your Passion, You confirmed the universal resurrection, O Christ God ..." The meaning of this song can be expressed more clearly and fully as follows: before the onset of His sufferings, before His crucifixion and burial, wanting to assure His disciples that the dead will all be resurrected, Jesus Christ resurrected the deceased Lazarus. The dead Lazarus was resurrected, which means that all the dead can be resurrected. Lazarus, at the voice of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, rose from the tomb, in which he had already begun to rot. This means that all those who are in the tombs, having heard His voice, will rise, will come to life, no matter how much they decay there. Why did Jesus Christ, before His sufferings, before His death, especially desire to assure His disciples and all others of the universal resurrection? Lest they should become despondent when they see Him suffering and then dying. After all, the thought of death never bothers us so much as at the sight of the sick, the suffering; and we never need the assurance of the resurrection so much as at the sight of the dying or the dead.

Christian Listeners! The disciples of Jesus Christ and other followers and contemporaries of Him could be convinced of our common resurrection by the resurrection of Lazarus: they could see with their own eyes how Lazarus, who died, according to the voice of the Lord, got up and left the tomb, or they could hear from eyewitnesses that this really happened. How can we be sure that the dead will all be resurrected? We have even more evidence for this. On the day of the death of Jesus Christ, many long dead rose from their graves and appeared to many. But the main thing that can be fully confident in our resurrection is the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Christ is risen in truth, and we will rise in truth. Or would you like to be convinced of this by something that is closer to you?

We can see something similar to our resurrection, one might say, with our own eyes. The sown seed or grain rots completely, turns to dust in the earth, but then grows again afterward, as if it comes to life, resurrects. Here is an example or similarity of how the bodies of dead people, although they decay in the earth, turn into dust and dirt, but then, after, they will also rise again, come to life, rise again. And besides this, besides seeds, there is much in visible nature that would not come to life if it had not first died; and thus it can be said that we always have evidence before our eyes that although people die, they will all come to life again, rise again.

So, let us not, listeners, forget that although we will certainly die, we will certainly come to life, we will be resurrected. So our Lord Jesus Christ also died, but He also rose again, He Himself rose and resurrected many dead, including Lazarus. So much in sensible nature dies, decays, but comes to life again, rises again. Something else will not come to life without first decaying. Yes, decay in nature is the beginning of another, new, better life. Why shouldn't our coffin also be a stairway to Heaven for us? Let us always assure ourselves of our resurrection, especially when we remember the terrible hour of death. In a moment of fear of death, confidence in the resurrection enlivens, encourages, calms our trembling immortal soul. Ah, the only consolation for us then is faith in God and confidence in the resurrection of the dead.

Why are we so afraid, trembling, terrified of death? More because we doubt whether we will still live after death. We are afraid that when we die, we will not only die, we will cease to exist, our whole being will turn into irrevocable nothingness. I’ll die, I’ll stop living and acting here, in this life - that’s nothing, it’s not so scary; I will still live and act somewhere, although not here anymore. But what if I die in such a way that I will no longer live anywhere, never and in no way, I will completely stop thinking, wishing, feeling, and as there was a time when I did not exist, so from the time I die, I will no longer be, will never be, forever and ever will not be?! It's horrible! From this, the whole soul is indignant, trembles, shudders ... Oh, it would be better not to start living at all when it is so necessary to die!

Christ God, my hope! Do not deprive me of Your last consolation - the certainty that although I die, I will live; I will die, I will decay, but I will revive again, I will rise - I will rise and I will live now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

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