Pascha: Sin and death are conquered.


 

I must say a few words on this holy day, not too many, because the hour is late, and we're not accustomed to praying late at night.

 

What is it that we celebrate, brothers and sisters, what do we celebrate today?

 

We celebrate two healings: the God-man, with His two natures – a son twice – healed us of death and sin. And if you read carefully this gospel, it speaks of this . . . not openly, but in a way that is mystical and spiritual.

 

Now, we all know that Jesus Christ rose from the dead. What His rising from the dead did was made our flesh able to become pure. And to the pure all things are pure as it says in the scriptures. If we become purified with the help of God, because now we're capable of becoming this, we will know God. Not only will we know God, but we will become sons of God.

 

Now really, death and sin are two sides of the same coin: where there is death, there is darkness, and sin also darkens the soul. No one can be happy when their soul is darkened with sin, and inevitably, sin brings about death. But the lord broke this cycle where man is born, and inevitably He sins, and inevitably He dies, and is not able to see God, because our lord lived as God in man, made His flesh able to see God – now if He was only begotten of the father, He always knew God as God's son: eternally, but, as a man, He had to make His flesh invigorated, so that it could see God.

 

We can appropriate this great salvation. Now how do we appropriate it? St. John says as many as received Him, to them He gave the power to become sons of God, even to them that believe on His name, which were born not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man but of God.

 

Brothers and sisters if you want to truly feel the resurrection, if you want to have joy that cannot be taken away from you, then you must receive Christ. And what is this receiving? The Lord gives us commandments, perfect and wonderful commandments; His yoke is easy and His burden is light, and He desires us to follow these commandments and He makes us capable of following these commandments; and if we struggle to follow them, it is a certainty that the lord will make His abode with us and we will be happy. Happiness that the world doesn't know, happiness that never ever grows old.

 

This is what we celebrate on Pascha, that we can become complete, we can become whole, we can become perfected, we can have absolute happiness, for eternity, knowing God.

 

But the Lord didn't just break the bonds of death: He broke the bonds of sin too, because as a man He lived without sin. He was like us in all things. He was tempted in all ways, just as any other man would be tempted, except that He did not sin. So He made our flesh change, just as the old covenant changed into the new, the old man, who would live in sin and die and go into the grave, was changed into the new man, who would live, and would be capable – if He would receive Christ, of living righteously, and when He dies, He would not die the death of eternal damnation, but He would be alive in Christ. This is what the resurrection does for us: makes us able to see God.

 

Glory be to God that He has given us so many blessings. He's given us grace and truth and grace for grace. May God help you to live righteously so that you can feel in every aspect of your life the presence of God and joy.

 

Amen.

2003.

http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/pascha-sunday-01_2003.doc

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