Tuesday, March 8, 2016

A Sermon for Holy Saturday, by St. Ephiphanius, Part 7

(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.)

As these things, therefore, and more than these were coming to pass, were proclaimed and made known, and all things were in an uproar, and the Master's presence was about to reach the very bottommost realm of the nethermost regions, then Adam, the first of men to be created, the first-fashioned and first-mortal, who lay in the innermost recesses bound with great security, heard the sound of the Master's feet as He came to the imprisoned, and he recognized His voice which sounded in the prison as He walked. Thereupon Adam turned towards all his fellow captives from ages past and said, "I hear the sound of Someone's feet advancing towards us, and if He deigns to come even to this place, we shall be freed of our bonds, nay, if we should but see Him in our midst, we shall be delivered from Hades!"
And as Adam said these things and their like to all his fellow prisoners, the Master entered within, holding the Cross as a weapon of victory. Then Adam the first-fashioned beholding Him, beat his breast in exuberance and cried to all, "My Lord be with you all!" And Christ replied and said to Adam, "And with thy spirit," and grasping his hand, He said, "Stand up, 'Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall shine on thee.'33
"I am thy God, Who for thy sake became thy Son, for thy sake and for thy descendants' sake, and now I say and with authority command the shackled, Come forth! and those in darkness, Be enlightened! and those asleep, Arise! Thee I enjoin, Awake, O sleeper! for I did not fashion thee to be held in Hades as a captive. Arise from the dead, for I am the Life of the dead! Arise, My creation, arise, Mine image, who wast also made in My likeness! 'Arise, let us go hence!'34 for thou art in Me and I in thee; we are one indivisible person.
"For thy sake thy God became thy Son; for thy sake the Master took the image of a slave; for thy sake I Who am above the heavens came down upon earth and even beneath the earth; for thee, who art a man, I became 'as a man without help, free among the dead;'35 for thee, who wentest forth from the garden [of Paradise], I from a garden was betrayed to the Jews and in a garden I was crucified.
"Behold upon My countenance the spittings which I received for thy sake so as to restore to thee the ancient in-breathing.36 Behold upon My cheeks the slaps which I accepted so as to set aright thy twisted form in accordance to Mine image. Behold upon My back the scourgings which I accepted so as to scatter the burden of thy sins which weighs upon thy back.
"Behold My hands, which unto good were nailed to the tree [of the Cross] for thee, who unto evil didst stretch forth thy hand to the tree. Behold My feet, which were nailed and transfixed upon the tree [of the Cross] for the sake of thy feet which evilly ran to the tree of disobedience on the sixth day, that same day whereon the decree [of thy condemnation] was pronounced and whereon I wrought thy re-creation and re-opened Paradise.37
"For thy sake I tasted gall, so as to heal for thee the bitter pleasure caused by that sweet fruit. I tasted vinegar, so as to nullify thy poignant and contranatural cup of death. I accepted the reed, so as to undersign [the writ of] freedom for the race of men. I slept upon the Cross and by a sword was pierced in the side for thee, from whose side whilst thou wast sleeping in Paradise Eve was brought forth. My side healed the pain of thy side; My sleep shall wrest thee from the sleep of Hades; My sword arrested the sword turned38 against thee.
"Wherefore arise, let us go hence! The foe led thee out of the land of Paradise; yet no more shall I restore thee to Paradise, but to a celestial throne. I restrained thee from the typical tree of life, but lo, I myself, the [true] Life, am united unto thee. I enjoined the Cherubim to watch over thee like a slave; now I make the Cherubim to worship thee like God. Thou didst hide from God as one naked; but lo, thou hast hidden within thyself naked God. Thou didst put on the skin-made coat of shame,39 but being God I put on the haematic coat of thy flesh.
"Wherefore arise, let us go hence, from death into life, from corruption in incorruption, from darkness into everlasting light! Arise, let us go hence, from affliction into joy, from slavery into freedom, from prison into the Jerusalem on high, from bonds into repose, from detention into the delight of Paradise, from earth into Heaven! And for this did I die, and and arose, that I should be Lord both of the dead and the living.
"Arise, let us go hence! For My Heavenly Father waits for the sheep that was lost. The ninety and nine sheep, the angels, await their fellow servant Adam, when he shall arise, when he shall ascend and to up to God. A cherubic throne is prepared, and the bearers thereof are swift and expectant. The bridal-chamber is made ready, the delicacies are prepared, the eternal tabernacles and abodes are waiting, the treasuries of good things are thrown open, the Kingdom of the Heavens has been prepared before the ages, and that which 'eye hath not seen, nor ear hath heard, neither hath entered into the heart of man,'40 these same good things await mankind."
When the Master said this and more besides, Adam, being united to Him inwardly, rose up, and Eve arose as well, and the bodies of many others who in faith had fallen asleep from ages past arose41 also, preaching the Master's resurrection on the third day.
The same, O men of faith, let us now joyously welcome; let us behold it and embrace it, as we form one chorus with the angels, and with the bodiless celebrate and glorify Christ Who raised us up from corruption and gave us life, to Whom be glory and dominion with His Father, Who is without beginning, and His all-holy good and life-creating Spirit, both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

There will be one final installment of this sermon — the footnotes. I keep these separate, so that you may have them open in a separate window, for reference, as you read each of the Parts of the sermon.
However, the Mods have told me to limit myself to one Post a day, so the footnotes must needs wait until tomorrow at the earliest. Stay tuned!

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