Homily on Holy and Great Friday

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What a sorrowful sight we have before our eyes! Our Savior is in the tomb. Our Joy and the Treasure of our hearts is in the tomb. But how couldst Thou, our Joy, be contained in this small tomb? Is it the place for Thee? While living on earth, Thou gavest Thy life to everyone, but now Thou art Thyself lying lifeless. Thou didst wipe away everyone's tears, but now Thou art Thyself making Thy loved ones to weep for Thee. Is this place the for Thee? It is for us mortals, and not for Thee the Immortal One; it is for us with corruptible and sinful bodies, for us sinners justly condemned to death, and not for Thee, the Most Holy and Sinless One.

Brethren! Let us weep and mourn, for it was we who by our sins put the Sinless One in the bonds of death; it was we, condemned to death, who forced Him to descend to the gates of death. For us, whom hell is ready to swallow, He descended with His soul into hell, lying with His Body before us.

O inexhaustible and inexpressible Divine Love! Our sweetest Jesus! To such measure hast Thou loved man—the most contemptible and ungrateful creature! Thou Thyself didst become a Man for us in order to bring us into communion with God; Thou Thyself didst suffer in order to save us from eternal suffering; Thou Thyself didst die that we might live forever; Thou Thyself didst descend into hell so we would never be in hell. Man lost everything through sin, and Thou dost return everything to him—and how dost Thou return it?

Man lost blessedness through pride, disobedience and the desire to be equal to God; but Thou dost return it through obedience to the Heavenly Father, through the deepest self-abasement and humility, through the most shameful and painful death, and finally, through descent into the abyss of hell. Thou didst return to man what he had lost, and now he has become truly happy and blessed; now he is again with God, lives for God, strives for God, seeks consolation in God, and hopes to live and rejoice with God for ever and ever. Who can describe or fully appreciate the great abyss, the whole ocean of God’s mercy, which our Dearest, Most Precious, Savior—now silently lying in the tomb—has poured out upon us from His Father?

Brethren! Let us feel this mercy of our Savior, and in the gratitude of our hearts let us bow down with our bodies and souls before this tomb, kissing His wounds endured for us, His hands and feet pierced for us—kissing not only with our lips, but especially with warm and loving hearts. And let us remember all our lives His mercy and give thanks and praise to Him until the end of our days. Oh, if only our entire lives were nothing but a fragrant censer before Him! Let us pray about this in front of Him Who lies in this tomb, and the sinners’ tearful prayer will be heard by Him Who died for sinners. Amen.

St. Alexei Mechev
Translation by Dmitry Lapa



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