Paschal Sermon of St. John Chrysostom
The sermon of St. John Chrysostom is read universally throughout the Church, at the Matins service of Holy Pascha. It is mentioned in the service books that everyone should remain standing for this joyous reading.
If any man is devout and loves God, let him enjoy this fair and radiant triumphal feast!
If any man is a wise servant, let him rejoicing enter into the joy of his Lord.
If any has labored long in fasting, let him now receive his recompense.
If any has worked from the first hour, let him today receive his just reward.
If any has come at the third hour, let him with thankfulness keep the feast.
If any has arrived at the sixth hour, let him have no misgivings; because he shall in nowise be deprived because of it.
If any has delayed until the ninth hour, let him draw near, fearing nothing.And if any has tarried even until the eleventh hour, let him, also, be not alarmed at his tardiness.
For the Lord, who is jealous of his honor, will accept the last even as the first.
He gives rest to him who comes at the eleventh hour, even as to him who has worked from the first hour.
And He shows mercy upon the last, and cares for the first; and to the one He gives, and upon the other He bestows gifts.
And He both accepts the deeds, and welcomes the intention, and honors the acts and praises the offering.
Therefore, enter all into the joy of your Lord; receive your reward, both the first, and likewise the second.
You rich and poor together, hold high festival! You sober and you heedless, honor the day!
Rejoice today, both you who have fasted and you who have disregarded the fast.
The table is full-laden; feast you all sumptuously.
The calf is fatted; let no one go hungry away.
Enjoy you all the feast of faith: receive you all the riches of loving-kindness.
Let no one bewail his poverty, for the universal Kingdom has been revealed.
Let no one weep for his iniquities, for pardon has shown forth from the grave.
Let no one fear death, for the Savior's death has set us free. He that was held prisoner of it has annihilated it.
By descending into Hell, He made Hell captive.
He embittered it when it tasted of His flesh.
And Isaiah, foretelling this, cried: Hell, said he, was embittered when it encountered Thee in the lower regions.
It was embittered, for it was abolished.
It was embittered, for it was mocked.
It was embittered, for it was slain.
It was embittered, for it was overthrown.
It was embittered, for it was fettered in chains.
It took a body, and met God face to face.
It took earth, and encountered Heaven.
It took that which was seen, and fell upon the unseen.
O Death, where is your sting?
O Hell, where is your victory?
Christ is risen, and you are 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 not one dead remains in the grave.
For Christ, being risen from the dead, is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.
To Him be glory and dominion unto ages of ages. Amen
In this sermon, composed sometime during St. John's ministry in the late 4th or early 5th century, we fine the Christ Victorious model of the atonement that was the dominant image of the work of Christ among early Christians and among the Orthodox today. Orthodoxy sees Christ the Victor and interprets the Crucifixion primarily as an act of triumphant victory over the powers of evil. Also, St. John (The Golden Tongue) explains how even those who waited until the very last hour to prepare for Christ's Resurrection on Easter Sunday should fully share in the feast.