Christ is risen, it is said on Easter night.
He is risen, indeed!
In an inverse way, the Cross ‘is’ the victory, the turnaround in the depths.. If we could but see the Cross, and the Descent into Hell, in their actuality, then we would see them as the low point that is actually the point of break through; and that would be resurrection enough.. It will seem irrational, but it is as if we only need the actual Resurrection because we fail to see the Cross/Descent as already the victory..
This means we should not skim over the Cross and Descent into Hell in order to get to the Resurrection; but rather we should allow that 3 days to be the rest of our life..
Too many people think Christ suffered so they won’t have to; thus they tolerate the Cross and Descent, but basically refuse to undergo it with Christ, as it asks from them. For, he suffered not so we won’t have to, but to bring us through the really deep suffering where we are stuck. In this deep stuck suffering – ‘hell’ we rightly call it, speaking experientially, not theologically – the victory occurs.
Thus, it is inaccurate to think of Cross as defeat, and Resurrection as victory. No, on the contrary, the Cross is the defeat which paradoxically and unaccountably turns into victory, and that means the Resurrection is confirmation on the outer of what has already come to pass on the inner.
The Resurrection acts as a gateway, inviting us to trust the depth process, and therefore let it be re-enacted in our life.
St John Chrysostom’s Easter Homily=
“..Let none lament his poverty,
for the universal kingdom is revealed.
Let none bewail his transgressions,
for the light of forgiveness has risen from the tomb.
He has destroyed death by undergoing death.
He has despoiled hell by descending into hell.
..Hell was filled with bitterness when it met Thee face to face below;
filled with bitterness, for it was brought to nothing;
filled with bitterness, for it was mocked;
filled with bitterness, for it was overthrown;
filled with bitterness, for it was put in chains.
Hell received a body, and encountered God.
It received earth, and confronted heaven.
O death, where is your sting?
O hell, where is your victory?”
Holy Saturday Hymns=
Today Sheol-Hades cried out groaning: “Would that I had not received the One born of Mary, for he came upon me and loosed my power; He shattered the gates of brass; the souls, which I held captive of old, as God He raised up.”
Today Gehenna-Hell cried out groaning: “My authority is dissolved; ..this One I am powerless to contain; with Him I lose all those over whom I had ruled.”
Today the Void of Nothing cried out groaning: “My power has been trampled on; the Shepherd has been crucified, and Adam He raised up. ..all those I had the power to swallow, I have disgorged..”
St Macarios of Egypt=
“When you hear that the Messiah in the old days delivered souls from hell and prison and that he descended into hell and performed a glorious deed, do not think that all these events are far from your soul. So the Messiah comes into the souls that seek him, into the depth of the heart’s hell, and there commands death, saying: ‘Release the imprisoned souls which have sought me and which you hold by force.’ And he shatters the heavy stones weighing on the soul, opens graves, raises the true dead from death, brings the imprisoned soul from the dark prison. Is it ..[impossible] for God to enter death and, even more, into the depth of the heart and to call out dead Adam from there? If the sun, being created, passes everywhere through windows and doors, even to the caves of lions and the holes of creeping creatures, and comes out without any harm, the more so does God ..enter caves and abodes in which death has settled, and also souls, and having released Adam from there, remains unfettered by death. Similarly, rain coming down from the sky reaches the nethermost parts of the earth, moistens and renews the roots there and gives birth to new shoots.”