John Chrysostom (which means the Golden-mouthed for his great preaching) was born in Antioch, Syria of Greek parents in 349 A.D. He was appointed Archbishop of Constantinople in 397 and was exiled by the Emperor Arcadius in 405 for his criticism of the Empress Eudoxia. He died in 407 in Pitiun, Georgia where his tomb is a shrine for pilgrims. Chrysostom was among the most prolific authors in the early Christian Church exceeded only by Augustine in the quantity of his surviving writings. This is an extract from an Easter homily.
“Everyone who is devout and a lover of God, let them enjoy this beautiful and radiant Feast of Feasts! If anyone is a wise servant, rejoice and enter into the joy of the Lord. If anyone has been wearied in fasting, now receive your recompense. If anyone has labored from the first hour, today receive your just reward. If anyone has come at the third hour with thanksgiving keep the feast. If anyone has arrived at the sixth hour, have no misgivings, for you shall suffer no loss. If anyone has delayed until the ninth hour, draw near without hesitation. If anyone has arrived at the eleventh hour, do not fear on account of your delay. For the Lord is gracious, and receives the last even as the first. He gives rest to the one that comes at the eleventh hour, just as to the one who has labored from the first. He has mercy upon the last, and cares for the first; to the one He gives, and to the other He is gracious. He both honors the work, and praises the intention.
Enter all of you, therefore, into the joy of our Lord, and whether first or last receive your reward, O rich and poor, one with another, dance for joy! O you ascetics and you negligent, celebrate the Day! You that have fasted and you that have disregarded the fast, rejoice today! The table is rich-laden; feast royally, all of you! The calf is fattened; let no one go forth hungry!
Let all partake of the Feast of Faith. Let all receive the riches of goodness. Let none lament their poverty, for the Universal Kingdom has been revealed. Let none mourn their transgressions, for Pardon has dawned from the Tomb! Let no one fear Death, for the Savior’s death has set us free! He that was taken by Death has annihilated it! He descended into Hell and took Hell captive! He embittered it, when it tasted of His Flesh! And anticipating this Isaiah exclaimed, ‘Hell was embittered when it encountered thee in the lower regions.’ It was embittered, for it was abolished! It was embittered, for it was mocked! It was embittered, for it was purged! It was embittered, for it was despoiled! It was embittered, for it was bound in chains! It took a body, and face to face met God! It took earth, and encountered Heaven! It took what it saw, but crumbled before what it had not seen!
‘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 tombs! For Christ being raised from the dead has become the first-fruits of them that slept. To Him be glory and dominion through all the ages of ages!”