Orthodox Byzantine Chants
Holy Mount Athos
On the great and holy Sunday of Easter we celebrate the life giving Resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
We call this holy feast Easter after the ancient Hebrew word Pesah, meaning crossing. Because this is the day when God brought the world from non-existence into existence. On this very day by taking the Jews from the hands of the Pharaoh, He helped them cross the Red Sea and in the same day He descended from heaven and dwelled in the womb of the Virgin. And now, by freeing the whole mankind from the depths of hell, took them to heaven and brought them back to the old honor of immortality. But when He descended to hell, the Lord did not revive all those who were found there, only those who wanted to believe in Him. And the souls of the saints kept by force in hell for centuries, were freed by Him and He gave to all the power to ascend to heaven.
That is why we celebrate extraordinarily; we celebrate in splendor the Resurrection, expressing the joy enriching our nature due to the plentiful mercies of God. In the same time, giving each other the habitual Easter kiss, we celebrate the dissipation of enmity, showing by this our communion with God and His angels.
And the Resurrection of the Lord it took place in the following way: At midnight, while the soldiers were guarding the tomb, the earth quaked and an angel came down from heaven and overturned the stone from the tomb. The soldiers when they saw this got frightened and ran away. Only afterwards the women came to the tomb, on Saturday, after midnight, close to daybreak. The Resurrection was first known by Theotokos who as the Gospel from Matthew says, was staying at the tomb with Maria Magdalene.
But for not appearing any doubt about the Resurrection, due to the motherly love for Her Son, the evangelists say that the Lord first showed up to Maria Magdalene. She also saw the angel who was standing on the stone and when she bent she saw the angels from inside the tomb who were announcing the Resurrection of the Lord and said: He has been Resurrected, He is not here, here is the place where the Lord was laid. Hearing these, she ran fast to the most zealous of His disciples, to Peter and John and announced them about the Resurrection. And she came back to the tomb with the other Maria and Jesus greeted them saying: Rejoice!
It was right for the woman to be the first to hear the joy, she who had heard before: She shall give birth to children in pains!
They were overwhelmed by their love and touched His immaculate feet, wanting to recognize Him. The apostles came to the tomb and Peter after bending went back but John entered inside, he searched the place all over and touched the shroud and the veil for the head (Luke 24, 12, John 20, 3-8)
Magdalene, wanting to make sure of what she had seen, came back to the tomb with the other women at the daybreak and they stayed outside and cried. But while they were staying there they saw two bright angels, full of light who rebuked her somehow: Woman, why are you crying? Who are you looking for? Are you looking for Jesus the Nazarene? The Crucified One? He is Risen, He is not here anymore.
And they stood up awestruck, seeing the Lord. And that woman coming back saw Christ standing there and having the impression that He was the gardener (since the tomb was in a garden) told Him: Lord, if you took Him, tell me where you have put Him. And I shall take Him. And she looked back at the angels and the Savior said to Magdale: Mary and she recognized the sweet and well known voice of Christ and wanted to touch Him. But He said: Do not touch me, because I have not ascended yet to My Father. You have the impression that I am still a man, but go to my brothers and tell them what you saw and heard. And Maria Magdalene did just like that. When the day broke she came back to the tomb with the other women. And among them were Joanna and Salome and there was Theotokos as well. She is the one the Gospel calls Maria of Josiah, cause Josiah was the son of Joseph. It is not known the hour when Christ was Resurrected. Some say that it happened at the first song of the roosters, others that it was when it took place the earthquake and some others that it was in a another moment.
Thus after it happened so some of the people who guarded the tomb came and told to the archpriests what happened and they bribed them and made them say that the disciples of Christ came in the middle of the night and stole Him. On the evening of that day the disciples were gathered together and were afraid of the Jews and kept the doors locked and Jesus came to them, because He had immaterial body and as usual He said: Peace be upon you! And when they saw Him they exceedingly rejoiced and they received the work of the Holy Spirit by His breath.
In what regards the Resurrection of the Lord on the third day from His burial, you should know this: the Thursday evening and the whole Friday make a whole day (this is the way the Jews counted the length of a day), then Friday night and the whole Saturday make another day, so here it is the second day. The third one is that from the night of Saturday till the day of Sunday. Or in another way: Christ was crucified on Friday, at the third hour, from the sixth hour till the ninth it became dark, and you should understand that as a night. Thus here it is the length of a day, from the third till the ninth hour. Then after dark the day and night of Friday follow. Here it is the second day. And in the end the day and night of Saturday is the third length of day. Because even if the Savior promised to bring us salvation in three days, He did that in a shorter time.
His be the glory and power forever more! Amen.