Rev. Lyle McKenzie Lutheran Church of the Cross of Victoria
Isaiah 25:6-9; Mark 16:1-8 (9-16)
The Catechetical Sermon of St. John Chrysostom
Born about 347 in Antioch, he became the Bishop of Constantinople in 397. Known as the “The Golden Tongue” for his preaching, this sermon was for those who were Baptized at the Easter/Paschal festival. Over sixteen centuries later the words still speak to us and our time of the great and promised Easter joy
If anyone be devout and love God, let them enjoy this fair and radiant triumphal feast. If anyone be a wise servant, let them rejoicing enter into the joy of their Lord. If any have labored long in fasting, let them now receive their recompense. If any have wrought from the first hour, let them today receive their just reward. If any have come at the third hour, let them with thankfulness keep the feast. If any have arrived at the sixth hour, let them have no misgivings; because they shall in no way be deprived thereof. If any have delayed until the ninth hour, let them draw near, fearing nothing. If any have tarried even until the eleventh hour, let them, also, be not alarmed at their tardiness; for the Lord, who is jealous of the Lord’s honor, will accept the last even as the first; God gives rest unto any who comes at the eleventh hour, even as unto anyone who has wrought from the first hour.
And God shows mercy upon the last, and cares for the first; and to the one God gives, and upon the other God bestows gifts. And God both accepts the deeds, and welcomes the intention, and honors the acts and praises the offering. Therefore, enter you all into the joy of your Lord; and 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 all of you sumptuously. The calf is fatted; let no one go hungry away.
Enjoy all of you the feast of faith: Receive all of you the riches of loving-kindness. Let no one bewail their poverty, for the universal dominion has been revealed. Let no one weep for their iniquities, for pardon has shown forth from the grave. Let no one fear death, for the Savior’s death has set us free. The one that was held prisoner of it has annihilated it. By descending into Hell, Jesus made Hell captive. Jesus embittered it when it tasted of His flesh. And Isaiah, foretelling this, did cry: Hell, it says, was embittered, when it encountered God’s own 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 Christ be glory and dominion unto ages of ages. Amen.