Hell received a body, and encountered God.
It received earth, and confronted heaven.
O death, where is your sting?
O hell, where is your victory?
Christ is risen! And you, o death, are annihilated!
Christ is risen! And the evil ones are cast down!
Beloved brothers and sisters in the Lord,
These beautiful words from the homily of Saint John Chrysostom at the Anastasis service affirm what is a fundamental part of our faith as Orthodox Christians: the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and the annihilation of death itself.
When St. John Chrysostom says “And you, o death, are annihilated,” his intention is a very deliberate expression of God’s power, the power of victory over death. One only need open the dictionary to see that the definition of the word “annihilation,” is a “complete destruction or obliteration,” or “total defeat.”
It denotes an utter finality. Saint John does not use the word “wounded,” or “injured,” but “annihilated.” The annihilation of death, is what we celebrate each year on the Feast of Feasts, and carry into the rest our lives as Orthodox Christians.
As believers in Jesus Christ, we no longer need fear death. Christ has come to die for us and be raised for us, to bring us with him into eternal life. The Lord did not think it sufficient to only send us holy men and women to herald His message of love and mercy, as HE HIMSELF came to us!! There has never been, nor will there ever be, a greater symbol of love in the history of the world than the Lord’s defeat of death and sin at the foot of the cross, and the empty tomb.
Let us embrace these beautiful words and celebrate the power of these “saving days” by joining our faithful in prayer and exaltation this Paschal season as we proclaim the words, “Christ is Risen!” this Pascha.
To Him be glory and praise forever, Amen!
With love in the Risen Lord,