September 22, 2019

Homily on the Resurrection Apolytikion in the Plagal of the First Tone

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

The troparia of the Church, especially those composed by the great Father and foremost theologian, Saint John of Damascus, contain the entire theology of the Church. They are not emotional troparia, but theological. This is also the case with the Resurrection Apolytikion in plagal of the first tone which we chanted today, and it is as follows:

Τόν συνάναρχον Λόγον Πατρί καί Πνεύματι, τόν ἐκ Παρθένου τεχθέντα εἰς σωτηρίαν ἡμῶν, ἀνυμνήσωμεν πιστοί καί προσκυνήσωμεν, ὅτι ηὐδόκησε σαρκί, ἀνελθεῖν ἐν τῷ Σταυρῷ, καί θάνατον ὑπομεῖναι, καί ἐγεῖραι τούς τεθνεῶτας, ἐν τῇ ἐνδόξῳ ἀναστάσει αὐτοῦ.

Let us, O faithful, praise and worship the Word Who is co-unorignate with the Father and the Spirit, and Who was born of the Virgin for our salvation; for He was pleased to ascend the Cross in the flesh and to endure death, and to raise the dead by His glorious Resurrection.

This Apolytikion is a synopsis of the entire orthodox theology about Christ, and so the doctrines of the Church become one hymn, which we chant triumphantly in plagal of the first tone, which is a festive and joyful tone.

This troparion speaks of the co-unorignate Word together with the Father and the Holy Spirit, Who became man, and is the God-man Christ, Who is truly God and truly man, in Whom the two natures, divine and human, became united "inconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably," as the Fourth Ecumenical Synod in Chalcedon in 451 dogmatized, which decided this on the basis of the terminology of the Holy Apostles and the experience of the Holy Fathers.

We confess that the Word of God is true God, co-unorignate with the Father and the Holy Spirit. God the Word is not inferior to the Father or to the Holy Spirit, there is not a time when He did not exist, as Arius thought, who was condemned by the First Ecumenical Synod. He is not an energy of the Father, but the Word and co-unorignate with the Father and the Holy Spirit.

This Word was incarnated by the Panagia, who was a Virgin and was conceived through the Holy Spirit, which is why she is called the Theotokos. The Panagia did not give birth to a man who later became sanctified and then God, but she gave birth to the true God of true God.

The incarnate Son and Word of God received flesh that was mortal and impassioned in order to die for us, not to atone the wrath of God the Father, but to conquer death in His deified Body so that it may become a medicine for us to conquer death in our being through His power.

Christ endured death, even though He was immortal in His divine nature, but this was not an event that should have remained in His life, rather it also raised or resurrected the dead. Even when Christ died on the Cross, disturbing events took place, such as a great earthquake, the curtain of the Temple was torn in two, the graves of the reposed opened, and many bodies were resurrected and entered the Holy City, Jerusalem, after the Resurrection of Christ. This also confirms the eschatological resurrection of all people. For when Christ comes at His Second Coming, all will be raised and stand before Him in order to be judged by Him.

Christ is perfect God and perfect man, He is the God-man Christ, He is the measure of all interpretations, in heaven and on earth, the only thing "new under the sun," and there is nothing higher than Him.

What awesome mysteries we live within the Church! How dizzying is life that surrounds us!

One wonders however: How do we chant such great events, that touch upon the theology of the mystery of the divine economy, the future resurrection of the dead, without us having spiritual understanding? And why, although we chant about them, are we so sad about the small and daily events that take place in our lives? Why, even though we have such a great God, do we live as if we are orphans?

We must be Christians spiritually, and must truly rejoice not only every Sunday, but in our entire lives, because we have communion with the God-man Christ.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.