May 6, 2024

Homily on Holy Pascha -1904 (St. John of Kronstadt)

Homily on Holy Pascha

By St. John of Kronstadt

(Delivered on March 28, 1904)

“I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death” (Rev. 1:17–18).

“Thus says He who is holy, He who is true, He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens” (Rev. 3:7).

Christ is Risen!

On the bright Resurrection of Christ, I greet you all and on such a great and holy day I want to speak with you, dear brothers and sisters, about the above words of Holy Scripture; and I call you dear because you are very dear to our Lord Jesus Christ, who redeemed us all at an immeasurably dear price - with His most pure Blood, shed on the cross for our salvation. Remember this, and do not forget, do not forget what you were redeemed from at a great price: from sin, the curse and death, temporary and eternal death. Beware with all your might of sin, which has caused so many troubles in the world, and is even now creating all sorts of troubles, even the real Japanese war: - may the Risen and almighty King of creation, the Lord Jesus Christ, end it, and may He break the weapons of our adversaries, and with His omnipotent power establish peace on earth, which our Tsar together with Russia so much desired and desires. So I repeat again: Christ is risen! Truly He is risen!

I want to explain to you the words of Holy Scripture given at the beginning from the Revelation to the Apostle and Evangelist John the Theologian: "I am the First and the Last (Alpha and Omega). I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.” With these sovereign words, the Lord indicates that He is the beginningless and omnipotent Creator of the visible and invisible, or angelic world - that all creatures received their beginning from Him, including Lucifer himself - cast down from heaven and becoming Satan and the devil, the chief of the fallen angels, who dared to resist God and enter into a struggle with his Creator and bring sin and death into the world of God. "I," says the Lord, "am the First and the Last. All created spirits received their origin from Me - angels and demons, who were previously good, holy spirits; by My word, heaven and earth and the entire human race were called into existence, and the laws of existence and life were given to them. All births of creatures have been and will be accomplished by Me, and I will be the end of heaven and earth with all earthly creatures; I will be the general resurrection and judgment of all. All My enemies and the entire satanic kingdom will be defeated and trampled upon by Me. By me the last enemy - death - will be eliminated and destroyed."

Since the book of Revelation to the Apostle John is the last book of Holy Scripture, and the first book is the book of the Genesis of the world and of the human race, written by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit by the Prophet Moses, then, pointing to this, the Lord says that through Him the existence of the world and the chronicle of existence began, just as through Him will follow the end of the visible world, which is proclaimed in particular detail in the book of Revelation, and of the last battle of the serpent or Satan with the Lamb that was slain and tasted death for the salvation of the world. That is why the Lord says to John: ""I am the First and the Last, i.e. by Me all things have received their beginning; by me they will end; through Me shall be the end of the world, the end of Satan's kingdom, and the beginning of his eternal torment, the end of the struggle between good and evil, the end of death, the end of the dying, and righteousness shall reign, and from Me shall receive a righteous recompense, good and evil, and the unrepentant sinners shall go into eternal punishment, and the righteous into eternal life."

"Behold, I come quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to everyone according to his work" (Rev. 22:12), says the Lord repeatedly in the book of Revelation. Pointing out that He suffered death for us and that there will undoubtedly be a general resurrection through Him, the Conqueror of death. He says: "I was dead, and behold, now I am alive forever and ever. Amen," and you will live forever. This is what the words of the Risen One mean: “I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen." In other words, "I defeated your death by My innocent death for your sake, and now I am alive forever and ever, and I sit with My Father on His throne, from which I was not separated, although I was on earth, having accomplished My great feat for you, subject to sin and death. You too, My followers, strive against sin and do righteousness, and where I am, there will My servant be, i.e. in the everlasting Kingdom" (cf. John 12:26).

These words of the Lord are also remarkable: "And I have the keys of Hades and of Death; or, in another place in the same book: "Thus says He who is holy, He who is true, He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens." Just as the victors of cities in ancient times, as a sign of their victory, took the keys of the city gates and solemnly entered the defeated city, so our Lord, having conquered Hades and Death for us with His death, took, as a Victor of Satan, the keys which he had owned for thousands of years, the keys of hades and death, and having destroyed hades, this dark, eternal prison of the earthly, freed the eternal captives and brought them into the light of the Kingdom of Heaven. That is why we celebrate the Feast of the Resurrection so brightly, all with burning candles, which we all call the bright Resurrection of Christ.

Let us celebrate it brightly, in mutual love and in all virtue, avoiding the dark deeds of enmity, intemperance and all impurity of sin. Amen.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

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