April 24, 2022

First Homily for the First Day of Pascha (St. Luke of Simferopol)

By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered in 1951)

"Christ is risen from the dead, 
trampling down death by death 
and on those in the tombs, bestowing life."

What is this amazing troparion of the greatest of feasts, so dear to us and so incomprehensible to non-Christians, causing even its ridicule?

Can fire be put out by fire? Can darkness be illuminated by darkness? Can evil be defeated by evil? Of course not.

Like is not destroyed by like, but only by the opposite. Fire is extinguished by water, darkness is dispersed by light, evil is overcome by good.

And yet, contrary to this universal law, Christ trampled down death by His death.

What kind of death? Spiritual death. That death, the essence of which is alienation from Christ-God, Who is Love, the Way, Truth and Life. Spiritual death is the rejection of the path of goodness, love and truth, and the preference for it of another path - the path of evil, hatred and lies.

And this path is from the devil, the enemy of Christ, for he is the father of lies, hatred and evil. So, spiritual death is from the devil.

This death was trampled down by Christ with an immeasurable and inexhaustible stream of Divine love, poured out from the Cross of Golgotha. The devil's hatred for the human race is overcome by God's love for us.

Thus, the universal law has not been violated, according to which like cannot be overcome by like, but only by the opposite, and it is true that Christ trampled death by His death.

The prince of the power of the air is bound by the Cross of Christ (Eph. 2:2), and those who love Christ are given strength to fight against him and powerful protection from him.

No less surprising is the second part of the troparion: "and on those in the tombs bestowing life."

Not only is this amazing, but also the Divine light of the most precious hope illuminates our hearts. If Christ is resurrected, then we will be resurrected in our bodies. For He rose from the dead as the firstborn of the dead, initiating the general resurrection.

“For as death is through one man, so is the resurrection of the dead through one man. As in Adam all die, so in Christ all shall be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:21-22).

Therefore, not only spiritual, but also bodily death, Christ abolished with His Cross and Resurrection. But this is already entirely the work of the omnipotence of God, and we do not need to reason about this according to the laws of nature, for they were also created by the Creator of everything, and He is free to act not according to them, but according to the unknown laws of His Divine mind and will.

Come, let us worship and fall down before Christ, who delivered us from spiritual death and bodily destruction. Amen.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.