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September 15, 2019

Homily on the Resurrection Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

Every Sunday is a weekly Pascha, because we celebrate the great event of the Resurrection of Christ. The Church does not want to forget this important event because it is our greatest hope.

In the Resurrection Apolytikion of the fourth tone that we chanted today we sang a hymn to the Resurrection of Christ. It says:

Τό φαιδρόν τῆς ἀναστάσεως κήρυγμα, ἐκ τοῦ Ἀγγέλου μαθοῦσαι αἱ τοῦ Κυρίου μαθήτριαι, καί τήν προγονικήν ἀπόφασιν ἀπορρίψασαι, τοῖς Ἀποστόλοις καυχώμεναι ἔλεγον, Ἐσκύλευται ὁ θάνατος, ἠγέρθη Χριστός ὁ Θεός, δωρούμενος τῷ κόσμῳ τό μέγα ἔλεος.

Having learned the joyful proclamation of the Resurrection from the angel, and having cast off the ancestral condemnation, the women disciples of the Lord spake to the apostles exultantly: Death is despoiled and Christ God is risen, granting to the world great mercy.

When it refers to the "women disciples of the Lord," it means the Myrrhbearing women, who as a group, according to the Evangelists, early on Sunday morning, went to the tomb where Christ was entombed, and they were informed by the Angel that Christ has risen.

Until then fear dominated people. When Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, they lost communion with God and became subject to death and the fear of death. Since then people are born and they die. Death is all around us, it is a reality that no philosophy or sociology or religion can solve. Only Christ put death to death and gave life and hope to humanity.

The Myrrhbearing women followed the opposite path of their ancestor, Eve. They rejected the ancestral decision, that is, they rejected the devil's proposal, which was expressed in doubt, and they received the joyful message of the Angel. Then it was the devil, now it is the Angel; then wicked counsel was accepted, now joy is accepted; then it brought death, now it brings life.

This joyful event was first experienced by the Myrrhbearing women, then by the Disciples of the Lord, followed by the saints throughout the ages, who, having experienced a spiritual resurrection, conquer the devil, refusing all his deadly suggestions, and they approach death with the hope of meeting Christ, the Panagia and the Saints. This is because after the Resurrection of Christ, those who believe in Him, live, walking in another state of being, which certainly is higher and more important then the state of being we are currently living in, where the passions exist, competition and despairing situations.

Thus, the preaching of the Church is the joyous message of the Resurrection, that Christ has Risen and has begun a new life. This is the authentic preaching of the Church. All that is said during a sermon by the Bishops and Priests must serve this purpose.

It is not the purpose of a sermon to present events of the age. We cannot, in the name of the Church, which is the risen Body of Christ, make moral, political or philosophical analyses during a sermon, but we must speak of the victory of Christ over death, that death cannot dominate our lives, that the devil must not have dominion over us with his wicked suggestions. This is the preaching of life-giving hope.

In the Apolytikion today we see the Angel preaching to the Myrrhbearing women, they transmitted this joyous message to the Apostles, and they in turn carried this message throughout the world. And we must give to all people around us this joy, hope and life of the Resurrection.

It is not possible to live in the Church, which is the resurrected Body of Christ, but in our words and our life to transmit sadness, despair, fogginess and misery, but we must be lit paschal lamps who transmit the light the of the Resurrection to people who are dead in our times.

We must preach that which Saint Seraphim of Sarov preached to the people he met: "Christ is Risen, my joy." Christ must be our hope and our life, and we must proclaim the Resurrected Christ to the despairing world around us.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.