The Synaxarion for Holy and Great Pascha.
On the Great and Holy Sunday of Pascha, we celebrate the Life-giving Resurrection of our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ, which is called Pascha, which translated from Hebrew means Passover.
For this is the day on which God created the world from nothingness. On this day, He delivered the Israelites from I Pharaoh’s hands and led them through the Red Sea. On this day, He descended from Heaven and took His dwelling in the Virgin’s womb; now drawing forth mankind held in Hades, He raised them to heaven and brought them to the first created honor of incorruption. Yet, in descending into Hades, He did not raise all, but only those who had believed in Him. He delivered the souls of the saints held forcibly in Hades for ages and granted them all ascension to the heavens. We therefore celebrate today, rejoicing in the luminous Resurrection which surpasses all nature, prefiguring the joy with which our human nature will be enriched through the compassionate mercy of God. Thus, as we behold the destruction of enmity and unity with God and the angels, let us exchange the traditional kiss of peace.
For the Resurrection of the Lord was like this: while the soldiers guarded the tomb, at midnight the earth quaked, for the Angel of the Lord had descended and rolled the stone from the entrance of the tomb, and the soldiers were so frightened that they fled. The women came to the tomb very early in the morning on the day following the Sabbath, that is to say, at midnight on Saturday. Therefore, late on that first day of the Resurrection, the Mother of God was there together with St. Mary Magdalene, who was sitting near the tomb according to St. Matthew. The Evangelists say that He first appeared to St. Mary Magdalene because of the relationship with His Mother, and due to the Mother of God’s love for her son, so that there would be no doubts or suspicions concerning the Resurrection. It was St. Mary Magdalene who saw the angel upon the stone; then bowing down, she saw the other angels inside. The angels announced the Lord’s Resurrection to her and said, “He is risen. He is not here. Behold the place where they laid Him” (Mark 16:6). Hearing this, the women turned to run and announce the Resurrection to the most fervent of the Apostles, that is, to St. Peter and St. John. But when they returned they met Christ Himself, who said to them, “Rejoice” (Matt. 28:9). It was very proper and right that Eve’s descendants should be the first to receive the joy of the Resurrection, since in former times Eve had heard, “In pain you shall bring forth children” (Gen. 3:16). They were thus overcome with love and, in their desire to be certain of the Resurrection, drew near to touch His most pure feet. During this time, the Apostles had run to the Tomb and John, simply bending over in front of the Tomb and looking in, drew back, either in awe or out of fear; but Peter entered therein and beheld with certainty and touched the shroud and the head bindings. Toward daybreak, Mary Magdalene again came to the tomb with the other women, for she wanted to be convinced beyond doubt of what she had seen. She stood outside weeping, and then looking into the tomb, she saw two angels, radiant with light. They reproved her saying, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking? Is it Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified that you seek? He is risen and is not here” (John 20:13; see also Matt. 28:5). Frightened, she immediately arose, for she knew that she had seen the Lord in truth. Then, turning back, she saw Christ standing before her, but she thought He was the gardener (because the tomb was in a garden), and she said, “Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away” (John 20:15). She again looked toward the angel and the Savior said to her, “Mary.” She then recognized (he sweet and well known voice of Christ and wanted to touch Him, but He said, “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to my Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, T am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God’” (John 20:17). Mary Magdalene did as she had been bidden. When the sun was just beginning to rise, she came again to the Tomb with the others: Joanna and Salome and those with them. In short, the women had come to the tomb in many successive visits, and among them was the Most Holy Theotokos. She is the one that the Holy Gospel calls Mary, the mother (step-mother) of Joses, because this Joses was the son of Joseph. Still, it is not known the exact hour the Lord arose; some say it was when the first cock crowed, others say at the time the earth quaked, while others say at yet another time. While all this was happening, some of the soldiers went to the High Priests and told all that had occurred. Offering them silver in bribery, the High Priests convinced them to say that His Disciples had come at night and had stolen Him. On the evening of this same day, while the Apostles were gathered in one place for fear of the Jews, and the doors being locked, Jesus entered (for His Body was not subject to corruption) and said to them, according to the custom, “Peace be to you!” Seeing Him, they were exceedingly glad, and through His breathing on them, they received the perfection of the work of the most Holy Spirit.
To Him be glory and power for ever and ever.
The Synaxarion of the Lenten Triodion and the Pentecostarion, ed. Fr David (Kidd) and Mother Gabriella (Ursache), Rives Junction, MI: HDM, 1999, pp. 163-166.