by St. Nikolai Velimirovich
Our father among the saints, Nikolai Velimirovich, was a gifted theologian combining a high level of erudition with the simplicity of a soul steeped in Christ-like love and humility, is often referred to as the “new Chrysostom” for his inspired preaching.
As a spiritual father of the Serbian people, he constantly exhorted them to fulfill their calling as a nation: to serve Christ.
During WW II he was imprisoned at the Dachau concentration camp.
He later served as a hierarch here in America, where he died.
“Tombs were opened, and the bodies of many saints who had fallen asleep were raised” (Matthew 27:52).
O, what a great sign! The dead bodies of holy men and women recognized Him, Who, on the cross, died in pain; but the dead souls of the elders of the Jews did not recognize Him. The whole of creation trembled, but only the criminal souls of Anna, Caiphas and Herod did not tremble. Dead saints showed themselves more sensitive than living sinners. How could the dead saints remain indifferent toward their Creator on the cross when not even the dead stones could not remain indifferent?
How is it that during this event from which the earth quaked and the sun darkened, the bodies of those righteous could sleep in the graves, those who fulfilled His Dispensation of Old, those who hoped in Him for life, those who prophesied about Him and, with hope in Him, closed their eyes?
O, what a great sign! O, what a great comfort it is for us who hope in the resurrection! For according to our weakness and little faith, we could say, “Truly, Christ is Risen.” But will we also be resurrected? Christ resurrected by His Own power but, how shall we resurrect? Who knows if God will resurrect us by His own Power. Here is consolation, here is proof:
“Tombs were opened, and the bodies of many saints who had fallen asleep were raised.”
This means that death was unable to annihilate even ordinary man. This means that those who are much lower than Christ are not dead as stones, rather are alive as angels. This means that one day even our bodies will arise from the tombs, that we will live also. All that our Lord said is substantiated and overflowing with countless testimonies.
Knowing the weakness of our faith, He proved the prophecy of His resurrection not only by His particular resurrection, but also by His raising many bodies from the tombs at the time of His own death.
O brethren, not one of us will have the least excuse for not believing in life after death.
O Lord, All-Merciful, strengthen the faithful in the Faith and return the unfaithful to the Faith. Amen.