St. Seraphim of Sarov Orthodox Church
872 N. 29th St. Boise, ID
an American parish of the Russian Orthodox Church
Paschal Homily of St. John of San Francisco

Though Thou didst descend into the grave ,O Immortal One, yet didst Thou destroy the power of hell.  (Paschal Kontakion)

He Who delivered the youths from the furnace, having become man, suffers as mortal .  (Paschal Canon, 7th Irmos)

A WONDROUS and incomprehensible manifestation! He suffers Who came down once into the Babylonian furnace and in it preserved whole the three youths who had been thrown there for their steadfast faith. When all were convinced that the flame had entirely consumed the youths, a song of praise was heard from the furnace, and Nebuchadnezzar, having come near it, beheld alive not only the three youths who had been thrown there, but also a Fourth Unknown One with them, and the visage of this Fourth One was like to the Son of God. Nebuchadnezzar understood that the power of God preserved the youths, and both earthly kings and the elements of nature were powerless before it.

However, how does He suffer now, as mortal, Who delivered the youths from death? How does He not only suffer, but also even descend to the nether regions of the earth, where the bound souls of the dead are confined? Did death indeed conquer life, and corruption vanquishes immortality? On the other hand, did God have no more power?

Fear not nor be saddened, O people, but be jubilant and rejoice! The power of God is stronger than that of men (I Cor. 1:25).

Christ suffers as mortal, but by His sufferings, mortality is clothed in a splendid garment of incorruption and immortality! The Lord descends to the nether regions of the earth in order to shatter the eternal bars.

The Immortal One goes down to the grave, but by this He destroys the power of hell.

The Light was hidden only for a short time, in order to shine brighter. The Mighty One went down into the depths of the earth in order to strike a blow to evil, at its root. Moreover, in three days, as Jonah from the whale, Christ rises now from the grave!

Lift your heads, ye downcast, rejoice, ye sorrowful! Come together, ye who are scattered! Arise, ye fallen! Although your soul may be filled with evils and your life have drawn near to hell, may the storm of the sea of life not engulf you who are in sorrows.

Death, where is thy sting? Hell, where is thy victory? Where is the darkness that thought to hide the Sun of justice?

Leap in spirit, all ye faithful, and joyfully cry out: "Thou didst rise as Conqueror, O Christ our God, announcing to the myrrh-bearing women, Rejoice…to Thy Apostles granting peace, and to the fallen giving resurrection!