Where, Death, is your sting!

Sermon of our Father among the Saints John Chrysostom.

Is anyone devout and loves God, let them enjoy this fair and shining festival. Is anyone a grateful servant, let them enter into the joy of his Lord. Have any wearied themselves with fasting, let them now enjoy their payment. Has anyone laboured since the first hour, let them today receive their due. Did any come after the third hour, let them feast with gratitude. Did any arrive after sixth hour, let them not hesitate: for there is no penalty. Did any delay until after the ninth hour, let them approach without hesitating. Did any arrive only for the eleventh hour, them not fear because of their lateness: for the Lord is generous and receives the last as the first: he gives rest to the worker of the eleventh hour as to those of the first. He has pity on the latter, he cares for the former. He gives to the one, he is generous to the other. He accepts the work done, he welcomes the intention. He honours the achievement, he praises the purpose. Therefore all of you enter into the joy of our Lord: first and last, enjoy your reward. Rich and poor dance together. Sober and slothful honour the day. Fasters and non-fasters be glad today. The table is full, all of you enjoy yourselves. The calf is fatted let none go away hungry. All of you enjoy the banquet of the faith. All of you enjoy the richness of his goodness. Let no one grieve at their poverty: for the kingdom for all has been revealed. Let no one bewail their faults: for forgiveness has risen from the tomb. Let no one fear death: for the Saviour’s death has freed us. By enduring it he quenched it. He who descended into Hell has despoiled Hell. He embittered it when it tasted his flesh as Isaias proclaimed in prophecy, ‘Death’, he said, ‘was embittered when it met you there below’. Embittered, for it was destroyed. Embittered, for it was mocked Embittered, for it was slain. Embittered for it was wiped out. Embittered, for it was bound fast. It received a body, and came face to face with God. It received earth, and met heaven. It received what it saw, and fell through what it did not see. Where, death, is your sting? Where hell, is your victory? Christ has risen and you are abolished! Christ has risen and the demons have fallen! Christ has risen, and Angels rejoice! Christ has risen, and life has found freedom! Christ has risen, and there is no corpse in the grave! For Christ, being raised from the dead, has become the first fruits of those who sleep. To him be glory and might to the ages of ages. Amen.

Translation: Archimandrite Ephrem (Lash) of the Ecumenical Throne.

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