The paschal sermon of St. John Chrysostom

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If any man be devout and love God, let him enjoy this fair and radiant triumphal feast.
If any man be a wise servant, let him rejoicing enter into the joy of his Lord.
If any have labored long in fasting, let him now receive his recompense.
If any have wrought from the first hour, let him today receive his just reward.
If any have come at the third hour, let him with thankfulness keep the feast.
If any have arrived at the sixth hour, let him have no misgivings; because he shall in no wise be deprived therefore.
If any have delayed until the ninth hour, let him draw near, fearing nothing.
If any have tarried even until the eleventh hour, let him, also, be not alarmed at his tardiness; for the Lord, who is jealous of his honor, will accept the last even as the first; he gives rest unto him who comes at the eleventh hour, even as unto him who has wrought from the first hour.
And he shows mercy upon the last, and cares for the first; and to the one he gives, and upon the other he bestows gifts.
And he both accepts the deeds, and welcomes the intention, and honors the acts and praises the offering.
Wherefore, enter you all into the joy of your Lord; and receive your reward, both the first, and likewise the second.

"My God, my God why have you forsaken me"

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Christ's fourth saying on the Cross is the cry: "My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?" (Matt. 27:46). This saying must be interpreted in an Orthodox way, within the interpretive analysis of the holy Fathers of the Church, because otherwise it can be considered heretical. This is said because there are some scholastics and rationalists who try to interpret these words of Christ by maintaining that, if only for a few seconds, the divine nature abandoned the human nature on the Cross in order for Christ to feel the pain, the suffering of His abandonment.
 
In the first place this saying is connected with a Psalm of David (22) which is purely christological, since it refers to Christ's incarnation and His saving Passion, and which begins as follows: "My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?" (Ps. 22:1). This Psalm is prophetic, because it reveals Christ's suffering on the Cross. Christ was not repeating it mechanically, but by the repetition He was fulfilling the prophecy. Of course the prophet's vision came first, and Christ said it in order for all the prophecies which had been spoken about Him to be fulfilled.
 
St. Gregory the Theologian, interpreting this cry of Christ, says that Christ was not abandoned by either His Father or by His own divinity, as if fearing the Passion and shrinking from the suffering of the Christ. So what happened? By this cry Christ "stamps on Himself what is ours". In other words, at that moment Christ is speaking in our place. For we were those abandoned and overlooked and then assumed and saved by the Passion of the impassible One. And St. Cyril of Alexandria, interpreting this, says that "He abandoned understanding and forgave the passion". Christ's kenosis, which began with His incarnation, reached its highest point. And this is called abandonment.
 
In Christ the divine and human natures were united unchangeably, inseparably and indivisibly, according to the definition of the Fourth Ecumenical Council. This means that they have not been separated, nor ever will be separated. And this is why we can partake of the Body and Blood of Christ. So this cry of Christ to the Father expresses our own cry at having lost communion with God through sin. Moreover, Christ was suffering for us.
 
By Metropolitan Hierotheos Vlachos
 
 
 

The service of the Bridegroom

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Beginning in the evening of Palm Sunday and continuing through the evening of Great and Holy Tuesday, the Orthodox Church observes a special service known as the Service of the Bridegroom. Each evening service we chant the Matins service of the following day (e.g. the service held on Sunday evening is the Matins service for Great and Holy Monday). The name “Service of the Bridegroom” is derived from the parable of the Ten Virgins, in which Christ speaks of mystical marriages in which the Bridegroom comes in the middle of the night. Some of the brides were prepared with lamps to receive Him; others had come unprepared and consequently were left out of the wedding feast (Matthew 25:1-13). The term “Bridegroom” suggests the unifying intimacy of Christ’s divine-human love for us all and is of great significance; in the parable He compares the Kingdom of God to a bridal chamber. The “Bridegroom” also suggests the Parousia, and in the patristic tradition the parable is also related to His Second Coming: it is associated with the need for spiritual vigilance and preparedness, by 

"Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit"

Mathew 28:19