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October 6, 2019

Homily on the Resurrection Apolytikion in the Grave Tone

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

Every meeting between people is rewarding because it brings forth fruit. When people meet they give and receive gifts. This is true even more with the Resurrection of Christ. The Risen Christ offered many gifts to people, and these are recorded in the Resurrection Apolytikion in the grave tone that we chanted today, which is as follows:

Κατέλυσας τῷ Σταυρῷ σου τόν θάνατον, ἠνέωξας τῷ ληστῇ τόν Παράδεισον, τῶν Μυροφόρων τόν θρῆνον μετέβαλες, καί τοῖς σοῖς Ἀποστόλοις κηρύττειν ἐπέταξας, ὅτι ἀνέστης Χριστέ ὁ Θεός, παρέχων τῷ κόσμῳ τό μέγα ἔλεος.

Thou didst destroy death by Thy Cross, Thou didst open Paradise to the thief. Thou didst change the lamentation of the Myrrhbearers, and Thou didst command Thine Apostles to proclaim that Thou didst arise, O Christ God, and grantest to the world great mercy.

As I said earlier, we clearly see here the gifts given by Christ with His Resurrection. These are great spiritual gifts and there is no comparison between them and other gifts given by mortal people when they meet each other.

We will now briefly analyze this Resurrection Apolytikion.

The first gift Christ gave by His death on the Cross is the destruction of death as well as the devil, who had the dominion over death. Death reigned over all people through the sin of our Forefathers, namely Adam and Eve.

Indeed, after the sin committed by our Forefathers, death was the result of their distancing from God, which is life, and not a punishment from God. First they died spiritually, then they died physically. We also, the descendants of Adam, know the consequences of death.

Christ by His Resurrection liberated us from spiritual death and gave us the assurance that physical death will also be destroyed with the future resurrection of the dead.

The second great gift of the Risen Christ is that He opened Paradise which had been shut after the sin of the First-formed. Even the Righteous and the Prophets of the Old Testament, after their death they would go to Hades from which Christ liberated them with the descent of His soul there, which was united with His divinity.

The first citizen of Paradise was the Thief, who confessed Christ as the Son of God. This shows us the great value of repentance, which takes place with the Grace of God. Repentance is a gift of the Grace of God. With the Light of God we see all that is in our hearts and then we ask of the mercy of God. It is an expression of the love of God that the Thief who repented became the first citizen of Paradise.

This is a hope for us all.

The third great gift of the Risen Christ, as recorded in the Resurrection Apolytikion we chanted today, is that He transformed the lamentation of the Myrrhbearing women into joy. When we are distress over the various problems that surround us in our lives, and when these problems lead us to ignorance, then, when we turn to the Risen Christ, He gives us joy. Christ actually transforms sadness, pain and despair into resurrection joy. No one else can do this.

Finally, the fourth great gift given by the Risen Christ to His Disciples is that He commanded them to proclaim His Resurrection throughout the world, that is, He commanded them to go out into all the world and evangelize all the nations, that we have a God who has resurrected and destroyed death. A fruit of this command is also we Christians who are gentiles, who converted from idolatry to the true faith, and we became members of the resurrected Body of Christ.

Christ continues to give these great gifts to Christians today, when we love Him and become His disciples. Who does not want to receive the great mercy of God? We will find this in His Church, which is His blessed Body. We like being given gifts. Why do we not pursue the great gifts of the Resurrection of Christ?

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.