Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh

Burial of the Lord

4 April 1980
Theme: Great Lent   Place: London Parish   Period: 1976-1980   Genre: Sermon

We have been aware to-night of the death of Christ; and yet, we proclaim that in the tomb itself the body of Christ has known no corruption because His divinity pervaded His flesh as perfectly and inseparably forever as it pervaded His human soul, Christ has died, and we now are contemplating the image of Christ in the tomb; but you remember His words: Unless a seed dies, it bears no fruit. Only that can rise into eternity which has died in time. And while we contemplate Christ in His tomb, resting in His flesh from the sufferings He has endured, His soul, shining with all the glory of the Godhead descends in that place which we call Hell, or Hades, or Sheol, the place where all the human souls were, whether righteous or unrighteous, who had died after the moment when mankind had been severed from perfect communion with God. And He fills that place with His presence, so that Hell is no longer; the harrowing of Hell is the end, the final victory of Christ over death. Hell knows now the final and ultimate victory; we will hear of it to-morrow night. But to-morrows liturgy, continuing the glorious sin­ging of the Alleluia which is already a proclamation of the Resurrection, will be already celebrated after the Epistle, in white vestments, because we know of the victory of Christ, while we still have not been face to face with its glory. Let us therefore come to the life-giving grave, bow down before it, worshiping the love of God that made the Son of God give His life for us, and let us at the same time worship the mystery of His victory, and wait for the moment when the news of the Resurrection will reach us… Let us come silently and worshipfully, gratefully and humbly, and with joy in our hearts…..

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