quod pro nobis traditum est

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter homily

Dominica Resurrectionis

Resurrexi, et adhuc tecum sum, Alleluia.

St. Mark16:1-8

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Let hearts be purged of evil
That we may see aright
The Lord in rays eternal
Of resurrection light
And, list'ning to His accents,
May hear, so calm and plain,
His own 'All hail!' and, hearing,
May raise the victor strain. (LSB 478:2)

In the garden our first parents brought sin into the world, and with sin, came death. The presence of God brought them fear and shame for they were naked. When Jesus died they wrapped Him in white linen and put Him in the tomb. Here Jesus rested from the work He had done and descended to proclaim final victory over the devil who had introduced death to Eden.

"He is risen! He is not here," the angel tells the frightened women. There is a reversal taking place for death no longer holds Jesus. In Him the gate of everlasting life is open. We are no longer dead in our sins. You and I are a new creation, baptized into Christ, into His death and into His resurrection. The corruption of creation is being cleansed and restored through the blood of Jesus. So the ongoing work of the completed work of the cross is proclaimed until Jesus comes again. Though on earth, we now live under Him in His Kingdom. As Jesus humbled Himself to the point of death for our sake now He is raised to eternal glory and dominion. We read in the words of the psalmist:

"O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth! . . .
Yet You have made Him a little lower than the heavenly beings and
crowned Him with glory and honor. You have given Him dominion
over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under His feet."
(Ps. 8:1,5-6)

Jesus reigns over heaven and earth at the right hand of the Father and yet He is also with us in His Body and Blood. At this altar He feeds his holy Church with the very life and salvation that He gained for us on the cross. This life is shared with His Church throughout the world and is celebrated together with His resurrection from the dead - which is our hope of the resurrection of the body and the life of the world to come.

The women were alarmed at this sight. The angel's words opened to them the reality of a mystery that is incomprehensible. They were told to tell this to the disciples and Peter. They were told that they would "see Him" in Galilee. "So they went out quickly and fled from the tomb, for they trembled and were amazed. And they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid." The Christian life is more than going and telling, going and teaching, going and making disciples. The Christian life comes from faith that hears the words of the Lord. This life includes obedience and it includes pondering the mysteries of God and longing to see His face. Their fear vanished when they saw the Lord. Their fear turned to joy. Perfect Love casts out all fear and this is love, not that we loved God but that He first loved us and sent His Son to be our Savior.

Abraham longed to see this Day and it was accounted to him as righteousness. His descendants are now people of all nations who know God in the face of His Son, Jesus Christ. The perfect Passover Lamb is sacrificed once and for all. The High Priest has offered Himself in our place and God is well- pleased. God's people are freed from the devil, the world and sinful nature. Death itself is no longer the end. As we continue to struggle with sin and death in this world we also share in the mysteries of life and salvation. In these mysteries we receive God's forgiveness and contemplate the glory of His face. In God's mercy we are given a foretaste of the feast to come, where there is no more death, no more sin, no more tears, no more fear.

He is risen! Alleluia! God grant that you together with His Church remain in His peace and joy that passes all human understanding and in the new life that we celebrate this Eastertide and throughout the year ahead. Amen.

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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