From a sermon of St John Chrysostom
If anyone is devout in his love for God, let him enjoy this glorious and triumphant feast.
If anyone be a wise servant let him enter into the joy of our lord, rejoicing!
If any has fasted since the first hour, let him come and receive his reward.
If any started fasting at the third hour, let him stay at the feast, thankfully.
If any has started fasting at the sixth hour, let him not feel guilty; he won’t be deprived of anything.
If any were delayed and began the fast at the ninth hour, let him come in, fearing nothing.
If anyone was kept behind and fasted only after the eleventh hour, let him not be worried about being late for the Lord;
For God will accept the last just as he accepts the first!
He will give rest to those who fasted from the eleventh hour, and just as much to those who pushed on since the first hour!
He shows mercy to the last, and cares for the first.
He accepts deeds, welcomes intentions, honours the acts and praises the offering.
Therefore, come in! Come and receive the joy of our lord! the first and the last; the rich and the poor, the ones who behave and the ones who don’t, Come! Come and honour the day of this great festival!
Even if you fasted the whole day and even if you disregarded the whole fast; the table is filled! And the calf is fattened! Let no one go away hungry!
Enjoy this feast of faith while receiving the riches of loving-kindness. Let us make sure that no one is upset at all about his poverty, for the great heavens have been revealed.
Let no one weep about all his sins, because from the grave he has been forgiven.
Let no one fear death, for the Saviour’s death has freed us all.
By descending into hell, He made hell his captive!
Isaiah prophesied this saying: Hell was abolished when it encountered Jesus in the lower regions; it was mocked! Mocked and destroyed! Hell had been overthrown and banished into chains.
It took a body and instead met God face to face; it tried to overcome the earth and instead encountered heaven!
It took what could be seen and in turn found the unseen!
Death, death has lost its sting. Oh hell, where is your victory? Christ is risen! And you have been overthrown.
Christ is risen! And the demons have fallen.
Christ is risen! And the angels rejoice.
Christ is risen! And life has won.
Christ is risen! And no one can remain in the grave.
For Christ’s resurrection is the fruit for all those who have passed away!
To him be the glory and dominion unto the ages of ages. Amen