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Let no-one fear death
"...so that you do not sorrow like the others, who are without hope..."
Source: Quarterly pamphlet for Orthodox Teaching «The Way». A publication of the Sacred Metropolis of Rhodos Island. Issue No.26/2013. A dedication on death.
Re-circulated by: http://www.imr.gr/content/files/odos-26.pdf
In the Catechist Homily by Saint John the Chrysostom, which is read during the Holy and joyful night of the Lord's Resurrection, we hear the following words:
"Let no-one fear death, because the death of our Saviour has liberated us.
Death was extinguished, while He was under its grip; He punished Hades, after first descending into Hades. Hades was embittered, when it tasted His flesh.
Isaiah had prophesied it: 'Hades', he said, 'was embittered, when it confronted You. It was embittered, because it had been abolished. It was embittered, because it had been taunted.'
It had taken in its grasp a human body, and found itself facing God. It received earth, and found heaven. It grabbed that which it saw, and stumbled upon that which it couldn't see.
Where, o death, is your sting? Where, o Hades, is your victory? Christ rose from the dead, and you tumbled even lower. Christ rose from the dead, and demons were thrown down. Christ rose from the dead, and the Angels rejoiced. Christ rose from the dead, and none of the dead will remain in their tombs. Because Christ rose out of the tomb and became the leader of those who were reposed.
To Him the glory and the power for all time."
When referring to the words of Saint Chrysostom, the blessed Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh wrote the following:
"Up until the Incarnation of Christ, every person, whether righteous or not, was deprived of the joy of encountering God. According to the narration of the Old Testament regarding the first Fall of our Forefathers - Adam and Eve - the entire human race was without the light, the joy and the glory of God. At the time, those who died entered an abyss of horror, of separation from God, and consequently, of separation from their loved ones.
That death had two aspects: it was not simply the earthly death, during which the soul that parted from the body rose up to God and worshipped Him at His throne, while He wiped away the tears of its earthly afflictions. There was also another death - a second separation: While living on this earth, one could - in one manner or another, even if only with a tiny edge of their soul - touch the hem of the Lord's garment; however, after death, each separation became irrevocable, final, dreadful...
But the Lord then came, and He died on the Cross with the same kind of death that every person dies... and He descended into Hades....
Ever since then, Hades is no longer the dreaded hell of separation, the way it used to be, because now, inside Hades was the living God Himself..."
The aforementioned words shed light on the matter of death; they are the answer to how a Christian copes with the fact of death. "Death", after the Resurrection of Christ, remains a biological event. The tombstone does not obliterate man. Separation is temporary. That is why the Apostle Paul instructs how Christians should confront the event of death:
"Brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant about those who are reposed, so that you do not sorrow like the others, who are without hope."
Our hope is the resurrected Christ, and the unending life that He has promised to give us, within the glory of His presence.
Article published in English on: 5-5-2017.
Last update: 5-5-2017.