Feast of The Resurrection of Our Lord 2006
The Place Where They Laid Him
In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
They laid Jesus in the garden in a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. This place was near where He was crucified. When the women arrived at the tomb to anoint Jesus' body they found that the stone had been rolled away. There was a young man there who told them "See the place where they laid Him." They were afraid and amazed and fled quickly not telling anyone anything.
Those who seek Jesus of Nazareth know that the Son of David died and was buried. They know the meaning of the cross. The angel at Jesus' resurrection told the women, "You seek Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified." We are reminded in the Church by the words of the Apostle, "We preach Christ crucified." In spite of countless claims to religious truth and many who seek for us to follow them and in spite of those who claim by code that Jesus married Mary Magdalene or that He plotted with Judas to betray Him we are given in sacred revelation a different picture of God and death. A Father of the Church, who lived in the 7th and 8th centuries, wrote, "For there are many named Jesus and many who claim to be the Christ, but we worship the one crucified." (ACCS, II, 244)
This is the One we seek and the One who we seek to worship. He is the Son of Man who suffered and died, who was crucified in the flesh. This is the One whose body is no longer in the place where they laid Him. The angel said to the women, "He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him."
This is frightening news. It is news that changed the hearts of many and led to the continuation of Christ's work in His Church on earth. He is risen, indeed! Now God's saving work is given to men in its entirety. He who loved us to the end is no longer dead. He lives! The women told the disciples and in time Jesus appeared to them and then to more than 500 others before His ascension into heaven. We see in Christ, in His death and resurrection, the life that is ours, a true gift from God in heaven. We see the significance and holiness of the sabbath, the day of the Lord's resurrection. We begin to doubt why we should not come to the Lord's house and worship Him, for everything falls down as vain excuse, without the Lord's command and promise that is ours in His Word.
What we need to fear is our own and the world's tendency to devalue the dignity of the body as seen in abortion, in the living of the homosexual life, in the pursuit of euthanasia, in the prejudice against our neighbor. These and all of our sin lead only to death, the inability to receive God's goodness and know His mercy in Christ. Yes, we know all too well what materialism is. For this and more Christ died in the body. This is God's love for us and the world that He sent His son into the world. Jesus comes from God and goes back to God but He does not do so without first being crucified and then rising from the dead that we may be forgiven of our sins and be partakers of His salvation. That is the significance of this greatest of Feasts. His death and life is given to us and all for the life of the world. We live because He lives.
This death and resurrection of Christ is daily in our baptism, it is weekly in the Sacrament of the Altar. It is in the hearing of Holy Absolution and in the preaching of the Gospel. This is Christ Jesus, God's forgiveness in the flesh for you and me. He makes us holy in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church and gives us the resurrected life that is lived out in our daily vocations for the benefit of our neighbor.
God grant that as we celebrate this Holy Feast of The Resurrection of Our Lord, and we are gathered weekly on the Lord's day of resurrection, that we be turned away from our old lives of sin and selfishness and die to sin and be turned toward the Lord, that we may always seek Jesus, and through Him in the Spirit come to see the face of God Himself. Look at the altar. See the place where Jesus' crucified and risen body and blood is laid, given and shed for you for the forgiveness of your sins. He is risen! He is risen and He is here to give you life and salvation. "To Him be glory and power for ever, through endless ages, Amen." (ACCS, II, 245)