June 5, 2019

What Did Pascha Give Us?

On the 39th day after Pascha we celebrate its Apodosis. Often the word "apodosis" is translated as "leavetaking" in English, but a more literal translation is "giving back." An Apodosis in the Orthodox Church is a day in which we celebrate the afterfeast of a feast for the last time. Everything in life and every event is measured by what it gives back to us. Since Pascha is an event, what exactly did it give back to us?

First, Pascha gave us back Jesus alive. For three days He was absent from earthly life. It appeared like death swallowed Him up, like Jonah in the big fish, like it does for all of us. However, just as eventually the big fish vomited forth and gave us back Jonah alive and well, so death gave us back Jesus alive and well, because death could not contain Life.

Second, Pascha gave us back the death of death. "When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: 'Death has been swallowed up in victory'" (1 Cor. 15:54). The Resurrection of Christ made death sterile. In the Old Testament there were sterile women who were able to miraculously give birth, such as Sarah, Rebecca, Anna and Elizabeth. These were all types of the virgin birth of Christ. But St. John Chrysostom says they were also types of the sterility of death after the Resurrection of Christ, for just as life came out of a dead womb, so life emerged from death in the person of Christ. He also says in his Paschal Sermon: "Let no one fear death, for the death of our Savior has set us free. He has destroyed it by enduring it. He destroyed Hades when He descended into it." By giving us back the death of death, Pascha also gives us back the abolition of the fear of death.

Third, Pascha gave us back hope for eternal life. We are guaranteed of our own resurrection through the Resurrection of Christ. If Christ is the Head of the Church and we our His Body, then how can the head be resurrected without the body? The Resurrection of Christ gives us back our bodies, though in a resurrected form. Knowing this, we have hope for eternal life, no matter what misfortune we endure in this life.

Fourth, Pascha gave us back rejuvenation and revitalization. From the time we are born we begin to age and enter into a process of death. The older we get the weaker we become, we get sick, and finally we find ourselves near death. What if there was a special medicine that could reverse this for us, maybe even make us immortal at our prime? How grateful would we be? This is what the Resurrection of Christ essentially did. He went through the whole process of death to conquer death in order for humanity to live with Him for eternity in glory. This is our rejuvenation. This is a process that begins in this life and comes to fruition in the next. No matter how old and sick and poor we are on earth, Pascha made it possible for us to be young, healthy and rich in an eternal way.

This is the Apodosis of Pasha!