Tuesday, March 8, 2016

A Sermon for Holy Saturday, by St. Ephiphanius, Part 1


(Note: This sermon reproduced from it's translation as found on page 33 of "The Lamentations of Matins of Holy and Great Saturday", translated from the Greek and published by the Holy Transfiguration Monastery, Boston, Massachusetts, 1981
© Copyright Holy Transfiguration MonasteryBrookline, MA, used by permission. All rights reserved.

Note 2: These are originally posted by me, with permission, on my blog at theologica.ning.com, under the username steve95054.  However, as that site is in danger of being taken down, I am reproducing them here, under the assumption that the permission granted was to me, for my blog, wherever that is.  If the copyright holders did not intend this, and do not grant the permission for me to post these here, they may contact me via the comments for this post, which I moderate and will see.)

(Note 2: I have added some paragraph breaks here also, since the original doesn't have any. I have indicated their breaks with the pilcrow — ¶.)

(Note 3: All bracketed texts are bracketed in the original, to indicate additions by the translators.)

OUR FATHER AMONG THE SAINTS EPIPHANIUS
BISHOP OF CYPRUS

An Homily on the Burial of the Divine Body of Our
Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, on Joseph of
Arimathaea, and on the Lord's Descent
Into Hades Which, After His Saving
Passion, Wondrously Ensued on
the Holy and Great Saturday


What thing is this? Today there is great silence upon the earth, great silence and stillness, verily great slience, for the King sleeps. The earth was frightened and became still, for God fell asleep in the flesh and raised up those who from ages past were sleeping. God died in the flesh and Hades shuddered. God slumbered briefly, and those in Hades He awoke.
Where now that so recent tumult, those cries, that clamour against Christ, O ye lawless? Where the populace, the oppositions, the ranks, the weapons, the spears? Where the kings, the priests, and the judicable judges? Where the lanterns, the swords, the boisterous shouts? Where the rabble, the jeering, the irreverent guard? Verily in truth and in truth verily, "the peoples have meditated things empty and vain."1

They have stumbled against the Cornerstone, Christ, and they were broken; they have hurled themselves against the solid Rock, and they were crushed, and their waves dispersed into foam. They struck against the invincible Anvil, and they were shattered. Upon the wood [of the Cross] they raised up the Rock of life, and It brought them down and slew them. They bound the great Sampson, the Sun, God, but He, having loosed the age-old bonds, destroyed the Philistines and iniquitous. God, the Sun, Christ set beneath the earth and wrought for the Jews lasting nocturnal darkness.

Today is salvation for men upon the earth and for those who from ages past are beneath the earth. Today is salvation for the world, the visible and the invisible. Twofold today is the Master's coming, twofold the oeconomy, twofold the love of men, twofold the descent and also the condescension, twofold His visitation of men. From Heaven to earth, and from earth to the nether world God makes His way.

Ye that from ages past have fallen asleep, rejoice! Ye that sit in darkness and the shadow of death, receive the great Light! With the servants is the Master; with the dead is God; with the mortal is Life; with the guilty is the Guiltless; with those in darkness is the unwaning Light; with the captives is the Liberator; and with those in the nethermost is He that is above the very heavens.

Christ [came] upon earth, and we have believed; Christ is among the dead, let us descend with Him and behold those mysteries yonder! Let us come to know the wonders of the Hidden One hidden under the earth! Let us learn how and to whom the kerygma was manifested in Hades!
What then? Did God save absolutely all when He appeared in Hades? In no wise. But there also He saved them that believed. Yesterday oeconomy, today authority; yesterday the tokens of infirmity, today those of majesty; yesterday the tokens of humanity, today those of Divinity. Yesterday, He was slapped; today He smites the tenement of Hades with the lightning of His Divinity. Yesterday He was bound; today He binds the tyrant with infrangible bonds. Yesterday He was condemned; today He bestows liberty on the condemned. Yesterday Pilate's ministers mocked Him; today Hades' gatekeepers saw Him and trembled.
But hearken now to the sublime tale of Christ's suffering! Hearken and offer praise, hearken and glorify, hearken and preach the wondrous works of God: how the Law retires; how grace blossoms forth; how the types pass away; how the shadows vanish; how the Sun fills the whole world; how the Old [Covenant] has grown old; how the New is established; how things of ancient times have perished; how things new have flourished.

There were two peoples on Sion at the time of Christ's Passion, that of the Jews and that of the nations; and two kings, Pilate and Herod; and two high priests, Annas and Caiaphas. And this was so that simultaneously there be two Paschas, the one terminating, and Christ's just beginning.

On that evening two sacrifices were performed, since two salvations, I mean of the living and of the dead, were accomplished. The Jew bound a lamb and sacrificed it by slaughter; but he from the nations [sacrificed] God in the flesh. The former gazed upon the shadow; the latter ran to God, the Sun. The Jews bound Christ and sent Him away; but they from the nations eagerly received Him. The first offered as sacrifice an animal victim; the second the body of God. The Jews commemorated their passing over from Egypt, whilst they from the nations heralded their deliverance from error.
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Here, there is a paragraph break in the original, and I find it a good place to stop Part 1.

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