September 29, 2019

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

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

The day Christ resurrected was a great, unprecedented and triumphantly unique day in history, because Christ after His death on the Cross, the entombment of His immaculate body, the descent of His soul with His divinity into Hades, rose from the dead, since His soul and body once again reunited, even though both are united with His divinity. This was followed with significant events, as described in the Apolytikion in the plagal of the second tone we chanted today:

Ἀγγελικαί δυνάμεις ἐπί τό μνῆμά σου, καί οἱ φυλάσσοντες ἀπε­νεκρώθησαν· καί ἵστατο Μαρία ἐν τῷ τάφῳ, ζητοῦσα τό ἄχραντόν σου σῶμα. Ἐσκύλευσας τόν ἅδην, μή πειρασθείς ὑπ’ αὐτοῦ· ὑπήντησας τῇ Παρθένῳ, δωρούμενος τήν ζωήν. Ὁ ἀναστάς ἐκ τῶν νεκρῶν, Κύριε δόξα σοι.

Angelic Hosts were above Thy tomb, and they that guarded Thee became as dead. And Mary stood by the grave seeking Thine immaculate Body. Thou didst despoil Hades and wast not tempted by it. Thou didst meet the Virgin and didst grant us life. O Thou Who didst rise from the dead, O Lord, glory be to Thee.

This Resurrection Apolytikion describes in a wonderful and compelling way all that took place on the day of the Resurrection of Christ around the All-Holy Tomb, which is blessed and glorified to all throughout the ages.

Christ rose without anyone knowing, not even the soldiers who guarded, by order of Pilate, the tomb. Only the angels conveyed this triumphant event.

Great events happen in secret, far from the problems and attention of people and the world. When someone is spiritually reborn, the nous rises within their heart and prays in secret, while others do not know anything special has happened, unless it is revealed to them by an angel.

The soldiers fell to the ground as if dead, when they saw the angels, who are created beings and participate in the glory of God, sitting on the tomb. This is the difference between an army with worldly authority and the blessed "army" of God, which consists of the angels.

The Myrrhbearing women were informed first of the Resurrection of Christ by the angels and after this some of them saw the Risen Christ. Mary Magdalene, from whom Christ expelled seven unclean spirits, namely demons, as she approached the tomb of Christ, she saw it empty and wept, thinking that someone had stolen His body. Then Christ Himself appeared to reveal to her that He had risen.

However, the body of the Master Christ was different from the one she had known before His death. Initially she thought He was the gardener, but when she heard Him call her name, then she recognized Him, because the voice of Christ had great positive power and energy, it was a revelation and manifestation of His divinity.

This Apolytikion presents a great truth: that the risen Christ also appeared, naturally, to Mary the Theotokos. She is the Virgin mentioned in the Apolytikion: "Thou didst meet the Virgin."

The Fathers of the Church, as analyzed by Saint Gregory Palamas, teach that it was not possible for Christ after His Resurrection to not appear to His Mother, from whom He received His human nature, and deified her immediately after her conception. Thus, Christ gave joy and life to the Most Holy Theotokos, who suffered much pain at the Cross and tasted of the pain of death, seeing her Son and God suffer horribly.

For all that happened on the morning of the Resurrection of Christ we feel the need to glorify Him. However, the resurrected Christ is glorified unto the ages, not only because He conquered death and gave life to all people, to whom He appeared after His Resurrection, but because throughout the ages He gives life and resurrection to all those who seek Him and want their salvation.

Internal changes and spiritual resurrections also take place today secretly in the Church, as well as in the tomb of the Master, which is people's hearts. In there can be found the grace of Baptism and Chrismation, there in the depth of the heart Christ resides after Baptism. When we repent and seek the mercy of God, then spiritual mysteries take place in the heart and the body is transfigured. The authorites of the world cannot do anything bad to the one who has been reborn, they cannot understand the mystery of their regeneration and they fall down as if dead.

The secret spiritual resurrection is an event of great value, touching eternity, opening the heavens, making risen people viewers of the angels, the saints and Christ Himself. How can we not rejoice every Sunday for the Resurrection of Christ?

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.