Remembering the Blessed Resurrection

 Abba Evagrius said, "Sit in your cell, collecting your thoughts. Remembering the day of your death. See then what the death of your body will be; let your spirit be heavy, take pains, condemn the vanity of the world, so as to be able to live always in the peace you have in view without weakening. Remember also what happens in hell and think about the state of the souls down there, their painful silence, their most bitter groanings, their fear, their strife, their waiting. Think of their grief without end and the tears their souls shed eternally.
"But keep the day of resurrection and of presentation to God in remembrance also. Imagine the fearful and terrible judgment. Consider the fate kept for sinners, their shame before the face of God and the angels and archangels and all men, that is to say, the punishments, the eternal fire, worms that rest not, the darkness, gnashing of teeth, fear and supplications. Consider also the good things in store for the righteous: confidence in the face of God the Father and His Son, the angels and archangels and all the people of the saints, the kingdom of heaven, and the gifts of that realm, joy and beatitude.

"Keep in mind the remembrance of these two realities. Weep for the judgment of sinners, afflict yourself for fear lest you too feel those pains. But rejoice and be glad at the lot of the righteous. Strive to obtain those joys but be a stranger to those pains. Whether you be inside or outside your cell, be careful that the remembrance of these things never leaves you, so that, thanks to their remembrance, you may at least flee wrong and harmful thoughts."

from "The Desert Christian," by Sr. Benedicta Ward, (New York: MacMillan Publishing Co., 1975), pp. 63-64
 

Commentary on John 20:1-9

John 20:1-9 Now on the first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, while it was yet dark, unto the tomb, and seeth the stone taken away from the tomb. She runneth, therefore, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we know not where they have laid Him. Peter therefore went forth, and the other disciple, and they went toward the tomb. And they ran both together: and the other disciple outran Peter, and came first to the tomb; and stooping and looking in, he seeth the linen cloths lying; yet entered he not in. Simon Peter therefore cometh, following him, and entered into the tomb; and he beholdeth the linen cloths lying, and the napkin, that was upon His Head, not lying with the linen cloths, but rolled up in a place by itself. Then entered in therefore the other disciple also, which came first to the tomb, and he saw and believed. For as yet they knew not the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead.

This excellent and pious woman would never have endured to remain at home and leave the sepulchre, had not her fear of the law for the Sabbath, and the penalty which impended upon those who transgressed it, curbed the vehemence of her zeal, and had she not, allowing ancient custom to prevail, thought she ought to withdraw her thoughts from the object of her most earnest longings. But, when the Sabbath was already past, and the dawn of the next day was appearing, she hurried back to the spot, and then, when she saw the stone rolled away from the mouth of the tomb, well-grounded suspicions seized her mind, and, calling to mind the ceaseless hatred of the Jews, she thought that Jesus had been carried away, accusing them of this crime in addition to their other misdeeds. While she was thus engaged, and revolving in her mind the probabilities of the case, the woman returned to the men who loved the Lord, anxious to obtain the co-operation of the most intimate of His disciples in her quest. And so deep-rooted and impregnable was her faith that she was not induced to esteem Christ less highly because of His death upon the cross, but even when He was dead called Him Lord, as she had been wont to do, thereby showing a truly God-loving spirit. When these men (I mean Peter, and John the writer of this book, for he gives himself the name of the other disciple) heard these tidings from the woman's mouth, they ran with all the speed they could, and came to the sepulchre in haste, and saw the marvel with their own eyes, being in themselves competent to testify to the event, for they were two in number, as the Law enjoined. As yet they did not meet Christ risen from the dead, but infer His Resurrection from the bundle of linen clothes, and henceforth believed that He had burst asunder the bonds of death, as Holy Writ had long ago proclaimed that He would do. When, therefore, they looked at the issues of events in the light of the prophecies which turned out true, their faith was henceforth rooted on a firm basis.

Sermon on the Resurrection by Saint John Chrysostom

Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!

If any man is a devout lover of God, let him enjoy this fair and radiant triumphal feast. If any man is a wise servant, let him rejoicing enter into the joy of the Lord. If any has labored long in fasting, let him now receive his recompense. If any has wrought from the first hour, let him today receive his just reward. If any has come at the third hour, let him have no misgivings; because he will in no wise be deprived thereof. If any has delayed until the ninth hour, let him draw near, fearing nothing. If any has 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 give rest to him who comes at the eleventh hour, even as to him who has wrought from the first hour. And he shows mercy on the last, and cares for the first; and to the one he giveth, and upon the other he bestoweth gifts. And he 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. You rich and poor together, hold high festival. You sober and you heedless, honor the day. Rejoice today, both you who have fasted and you who have disregarded the fast. The table is full-laden; feast you all sumptuously. The calf is fatted; let no one go away hungry. All of you, enjoy the feast of faith: receive all the riches of loving-kindness. Let no one bewail his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed. Let no one weep for his iniquities, for pardon has shone forth from the grave. Let no one fear death, for the Savior’s death has set us free. He who was held prisoner of it, has annihilated it. By descending into Hell, he has made Hell captive. He angered it when it tasted of his flesh. And Isaiah, foretelling this, did cry: Hell, said he, was angered, when it encountered You in the lower regions. It was angered for it was abolished. It was angered, for it was mocked. It was angered, for it was slain. It was angered for it was overthrown. It was angered, for it was fettered in chains. It took a body, and met God face to face. It took earth, and encountered Heaven. It took that which was seen, and fell upon the unseen. O Death, where is your sting? O Hell, where is your victory?

Christ is risen, and you are overthrown. Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen. Christ is risen, and the Angels rejoice. Christ is risen, and life reigns. Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in the grave. For Christ, being risen from the dead, has become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep. To Him be glory and dominion unto ages of ages. Amen.

Commentary on John 20:17 – Why couldn’t Mary touch our Lord?

John 20:17 – Jesus saith to her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended unto My Father.

The meaning of this saying is not easily understood by the vulgar, for a mystery underlies it; but we must probe it for our advantage. For the Lord will vouchsafe unto us the knowledge of His own Words. For He repulses the woman as she was running up to Him, and though she longed to embrace His Feet, He suffered her not; and, in explanation of His reason for so doing, said: For I am not yet ascended unto My Father. Continue reading Commentary on John 20:17 – Why couldn’t Mary touch our Lord?

Being risen with Christ

We shall be raised therefore, all with our bodies eternal, but not all with bodies alike: for if a man is righteous, he will receive a heavenly body, that he may be able worthily to hold converse with angels; but if a man is a sinner, he shall receive an eternal body, fitted to endure the penalties of sins, that he may burn eternally in fire, nor ever be consumed. And righteously will God assign this portion to either company; for we do nothing without the body. We blaspheme with the mouth, and with the mouth we pray. With the body we commit fornication, and with the body we keep chastity. With the hands we rob, and by the hand we bestow alms; and the rest in like manner. Since then the body has been our minister in all things, it shall also share with us in the future the fruits of the past.

On Thomas Sunday (1)

Christ is Risen! O the marvel! the forbearance! the immeasurable meekness! The Untouched is felt; the Master is held by a servant, And He reveals His wounds to one of His inner circle. Seeing these wounds, the whole Creation was shaken at the time. Thomas, when he was considered worthy of such gifts, Lifted up a prayer to the One Who deemed him worthy, Saying, “Bear my rashness with patience, Have pity on my unworthiness and lighten the burden Of my lack of faith, so that I may sing and cry, `Thou art our Lord and God.’

On Thomas Sunday (2)

Divine compassion brought it about in a wonderful way that when the doubting disciple touched the wounds in his Master’s body, he cured the wounds of our unbelief. Thomas’ unbelief was of more advantage to our faith than the faith of the believing disciples because when he was led back to faith by touching Jesus, our minds were relieved of all doubt and made firm in faith. And so after His resurrection Jesus allowed His disciples to doubt. But He did not desert him in his doubt. It is much the same as when before His birth He desired that Mary have a husband, who had not yet married her. The disciple who doubted and touched became a witness to the truth of the resurrection in just the same way as the husband of His mother had been the guardian of her perfect virginity.

Why does the devil often prevail?

After the resurrection of Christ, the devil is bound. Some may say,'If he is bound, why does he often prevail?' It is perfectly true, my brethren, he does often prevail; but its is tepid and careless, and who do not really fear God, that he overcomes.

He is tied up like a dog on a chain, and only bites someone who, sure of himself, goes near him. Wouldn't you think a man a fool who let himself be bitten by a chained dog? 

Commentary on John 20:28 – Thomas’ confession

28 Thomas answered Him, and saith unto Him, My Lord and my God.

He that had shortly before been slack in the duty of faith was now eager to profess it. and in a short time his fault was wholly cured. For after an interval of only eight days the hindrances to his faith were removed by Christ, Who showed unto him the print of the nails and His wounded Side. But, perhaps, someone will ask the question: “Tell me why did the minds of the holy disciples carry out so rigid an inquiry, and so careful a scrutiny? For would not the sight of the Lord’s Body, the features of His Face, and the measure of His Stature, have sufficed to prove that He had indeed risen from the dead, and to secure His recognition?” What do we reply? The inspired disciples were not free from doubt, although they had seen the Lord. Continue reading Commentary on John 20:28 – Thomas’ confession

Commentary on John 21:4-6 ~ Jesus’ 3rd appearance after the Resurrection

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 4 But when the morning had now come, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 5 Then Jesus said to them, "Children, have you any food?" They answered Him, "No." 6 And He said to them, "Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some." So they cast, and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish. 
As to the fact that our Lord and God Jesus Christ appeared after the Resurrection to Peter and John and their companions, and commanded them to cast the net on the right side of the ship, and to catch a multitude of great fish, making up the number of 153, I say in brief language that its meaning  is this. The gospel related that that night after toiling greatly they caught nothing whatever; and this narrative, when transferred to spiritual and suprasensual sublimity, suggests to us that before our Saviour's coming there was night in this world, for human affairs were devoid of the knowledge of God, being devoted to the service of gods falsely so-called; but, when a kind of rising and dawn of light took place, when our Saviour came and rose and shone upon those on earth, like a 'Sun of righteousness' (this the divine Scripture says), then the apostolic net was let down, and made a great catch of men, and for this reason had the right side allotted to it. For Moses and the prophets, when they let down the fishing-net, during the past night, caught the people of Israel only, while these often jumped out of the net and served demons, and the present state is understood to be the same as if they had not been caught. Wherefore, also they left for the apostles the most honourable place on the right, while they themselves occupied the left station, which according to our custom is inferior in honour. But in respect of the fish which were caught the number 100 shows the great multitude from the nations who were caught by the proclamation of the gospel; and, when Israel did not succeed, the teaching of the gospel seized that which is perfect;for the number 100 is perfect, being composed of 10 times 10. Wherefore also our Saviour likened all rational creation to 100 sheep, saying that 99…..
 
Taken from letter LXXXVI. – OF THE SAME FROM THE 70th LETTER OF THE 6th BOOK OF THOSE WRITTEN AFTER BANISHMENT, WHICH WAS ADDRESSED TO SERGIUS THE COUNT AND archiatros 

Commentary on John 20:19-20 – Jesus’ appearance to the disciples

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John 20:19-20 When therefore it was evening, on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. And when He had said this, He showed unto them His Hands and His Side.

On the selfsame day on which He had appeared unto Mary, and discoursed with her, He also showed Himself to the holy disciples, who dreaded the intolerable attacks of the impious Jews, and were, on that account, collected together in a certain house. For it was not likely that they who had been so instructed, and had often been bidden to make haste to escape from the wrath of their would-be murderers, would be found lacking in proper prudence. Christ miraculously appears unto them. Continue reading Commentary on John 20:19-20 – Jesus’ appearance to the disciples

The Holy Resurrection

Today the Angels leap with joy and all of the Heavenly Powers rejoice, elated because of the salvation of mankind. If because of the repentance of a single person there is joy in Heaven and earth, more so is this true because of the salivation of the world. Today did Christ liberate the nature of man from the tyranny of the devil and restored it to its previous nobility.

Were there not the Resurrection, then how could the truth of God have been preserved, when so many evil people flourish and so many good ones suffer and end their lives in suffering? Where do all of these people receive their just reward, if there is no Resurrection?

God continually shows us in nature that there will be a resurrection

Let us consider, beloved, how the Lord continually proves to us that there shall be a future resurrection, of which He has rendered the Lord Jesus Christ the first-fruits by raising Him from the dead. Let us contemplate, beloved, the resurrection which is at all times taking place. Day and night declare to us a resurrection. The night sinks to sleep, and the day arises; the day [again] departs, and the night comes on. Let us behold the fruits [of the earth], how the sowing of grain takes place. The sower goes forth, and casts it into the ground; and the seed being thus scattered, though dry and naked when it fell upon the earth, is gradually dissolved. Then out of its dissolution the mighty power of the providence of the Lord raises it up again, and from one seed many arise and bring forth fruit.

Taken from Chap. XXIV. of the first epistle of Clement to the Corinthians. From "The Early Church Fathers and Other Works" originally published by Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co. in English in Edinburgh, Scotland beginning in 1867. (ANF 1, Roberts and Donaldson). The digital version is by The Electronic Bible Society, P.O. Box 701356, Dallas, TX 75370, 214-407-WORD.