The Battle March into Hades

This homily was given by Fr. Matthew Howell on Friday April 30, 2021 at the end of the service of Orthros for Holy Saturday (known as the “Lamentations” service).

In this homily Fr. Matthew references the April 23, 2021 episode of the Lord of Spirits podcast.

The reading that Fr. Matthew references from Ezekiel which was read during the service is Ezekiel 37:1-14:
Again the hand of the Lord came upon me,
and brought me by the Spirit of the Lord, and set
me in the midst of the plain, which was full of
human bones. So He led me round about them, and
behold, there was a great multitude of bones on
the face of the plain. They were very dry. Then He
said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”
So I answered, “O Lord, You know this.” Then
He said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say
to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the of the
Lord. Thus says the Lord to these bones: “Behold,
I will bring the Spirit of life upon you. I will put
muscles on you and bring flesh upon you. I will
cover you with skin and put my Spirit into you.
Then you shall live and know that I am the Lord.”‘”
So I prophesied as He commanded me, and it came
to pass while I prophesied that, behold, there was
a shaking, and the bones came together, each one
to its joint. So I looked, and behold, muscle and
flesh grew upon them, and skin covered them over;
but no breath was in them. Then He said
to me, “Prophesy to the wind, prophesy, son of
man, and say to the wind, ‘Thus says the Lord:
“Come from the four winds and breathe upon these
dead men; and let them live.”‘” So I prophesied
as He commanded me, and the Spirit entered into
them; and they lived and stood upon their feet,
an exceedingly great assembly. Again the Lord
spoke to me, saying, “Son of man, these bones are
the whole house of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones
are dry, our hope has perished, and we are lost.’
Therefore prophesy and say to them, ‘Thus says the
Lord: “Behold, I will open your tombs, bring you
up from your graves, and bring you into the land
of Israel. Then you will know that I am the Lord,
when I open your tombs to lead you, My people,
up from their graves. I will put My Spirit in you,
and you will live; and I will place you in your own
land. Then you will know that I am the Lord, I
have spoken, and I will do it,” says the Lord.'”

1 Cor. 1 Cor. 5:6-8; Gal. 3:13-14

Brethren, a little leaven leavens the whole lump. Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our paschal lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us, therefore, celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us — for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who hangs on a tree” — that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

Matthew 27:62-66

Next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said, “Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ Therefore order the sepulcher to be made secure until the third day, lest his disciples go and steal him away, and tell the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last fraud will be worse than the first.” Pilate said to them, “You have a guard of soldiers; go, make it as secure as you can.” So they went and made the
sepulcher secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard.