The Easter Homily of St John Chrysostom
(Archbishop of Constantinople at the beginning of the 5th century)
Paraphrased by Nathan Nettleton, Easter 1999
Those who truly love God, let them take part gladly in this splendid and glorious festival.
Those who are faithful servants, let them joyfully enter into the joy of their master.
Those who are tired with fasting, let them now enjoy their reward.
Those who have worked from six in the morning, let them receive today what is owed them. Those who came after nine o'clock, let them celebrate the festival gratefully. Those who came after twelve o'clock, let them be confident, they will not be deprived. Those who waited until three in the afternoon, let them come forward without hesitation. Those who came only at five o'clock, let them not be afraid of coming so late. For the master is generous, and takes on the last as he took on the first. He gives rest to those who came at five in the afternoon, as well as to those who came at six in the morning. He rewards work done, and approves those who intended to work.
So enter, all of you, into the joy of our Lord. First and last, receive your reward together. Rich and poor, dance together. Those of you who have fasted, and those who have not fasted, rejoice today. The table is fully spread, let all enjoy it. The calf is fatted, let no one go away hungry.
No one need complain of poverty, for the universal kingdom has appeared. No one need weep for their sins, for forgiveness has risen from the grave. No one need fear death, for the Saviour's death has freed us.
He has destroyed death by suffering death.
He has pillaged hell by descending into hell.
Hell was embittered when it met you, Lord, face to face below:
embittered, because it was annihilated;
embittered, because it was mocked;
embittered, because its power was destroyed;
embittered, because it was chained up.
It received a body, and encountered God. It received earth, and confronted heaven.
O death, where is your sting? O death, where is your victory?
Christ is risen, and you are thrown down.
Christ is risen, and the demons have fallen.
Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice.
Christ is risen, and life reigns in freedom.
Christ is risen, and no one is left dead in the grave.
For Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died. To him be glory and dominion now and for ever. Amen.