Let all the devout, all who love God rejoice in this beautiful, bright Feast. Let the wise servants be glad and enter into the joy of their Lord. Let those who have borne the burden of the Fast, now receive their pay. And those who have toiled since the 1st hour, now receive their just reward. Let any who came after the third hour, gratefully join in the fast. And those who have come after the sixth hour, let them not doubt, for they shall suffer no loss. If any have delayed to the ninth hour, let them not hesitate, but also come. And they who have arrived only at the 11th hour, let them not be afraid because they delayed, for the Lord is gracious and He receives the last even as the first. He gives rest to those who come at the eleventh hour as well to those who have worked from the first.
Yes, He has pity on the last and He serves the first. He rewards the one and is generous to the other. He accepts the work, but also salutes the endeavor. He honours the deed, but also praises the intention.
Come, then! Let us all enter into the joy of the Lord! You the first and you the last, receive alike your reward. You rich and you poor, dance together. You with self-control and you who are weak, celebrate this day. You who have kept fast and you who have not, rejoice today. The table is richly laden: enjoy its royal banquet. The calf is fatted, let no one leave hungry. Drink the cup of faith; receive the riches of its goodness. Let no one mourn their poverty, for the universal Kingdom has been revealed.
Let no one weep because they have fall again and again; for forgiveness has risen from the grave. Let no one fear death, for the death of our Savior has set us free.
He has destroyed it by enduring it. He has sacked Hell by going into it. He has angered it by allowing it to taste His flesh. When Isaiah foresaw this, he cried out: “O Hell, you have been angered by encountering Him in the underworld.” Hell is angered because it has been frustrated. Hell is angered because it has been mocked. Hell is angered because it has been destroyed. Hell is angered because it has been reduced to nothing. Hell is angered because it is now imprisoned.
It seized a body, but instead it discovered God. It seized earth, and behold! it encountered heaven. It seized what it saw, and was overcome by what it did not see. O death, where is your sting? O Hell, where is your victory?
Christ is Risen! and Hell is annihilated. Christ is Risen! and the evil ones are cast down! Christ is and the angels rejoice. Christ is Risen! and the tomb is emptied of the dead; for Christ being Risen! from the dead, He has become the Leader and Reviver of those who have fallen asleep.
To Him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.
-St. John Chrysostom (349-407)