Easter Sunday - April 8, 2012

I once saw a beautiful icon of the Resurrection of Jesus.  It depicted Jesus coming out of the tomb, conquering sin and death, but as He rose from the tomb victorious, in His right hand he held the wrist of Adam and in His left hand He had a firm hold of the wrist of Eve, lifting both of them up out of the place of death as He lifted them with Himself into the Father’s Infinite Life and Love.

This is really our joy as we celebrate Easter as well;  that we too can have great hope that we can be lifted up by the Risen Christ into heaven’s version of ourselves.  The Risen Jesus sees beyond our selfish sinful old selves in order to see our true potential; our new self… who we really are supposed to be in His Grace.  If we will allow Him and open our hearts to Christ, Jesus wants to grab us by the wrist so to speak, and lift us out of the places of sin and death into a new Life in His Grace.

The rest of my homily is an excerpt from an ancient homily written for Holy Saturday.  This homily, given to the early Christians, shows us a beautiful depiction of hope as Jesus goes to the place of the dead in order to lead them out into His new life of Resurrection.   In this homily, as the Body of Jesus our King lay in deep silence in the tomb, asleep in the mystery of death, the soul of Jesus goes in search of Adam and Eve as a good shepherd seeking His lost sheep.  The ancient homily continues:

…The Lord approached them bearing the cross, the weapon that had won him the victory.  At the sight of him Adam, the first man he had created, struck his breast in terror and cried out to everyone: “My Lord be with you all.” Christ answered him: “And with your spirit.” He took him [Adam] by the hand and raised him up, saying:

“Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”     I am your God, who for your sake have become your son.  Out of love for you and for your descendants I now by my own authority command all who are held in bondage to come forth, all who are in darkness to be enlightened, all who are sleeping to arise.

I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be held a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead. Rise up, work of my hands, you who were created in my image. Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in me and I am in you; together we form only one person and we cannot be separated. For your sake I, your God, became your son; I, the Lord, took the form of a slave; I, whose home is above the heavens, descended to the earth and beneath the earth. For your sake, for the sake of man, I became like a man without help, free among the dead. For the sake of you, who left a garden, I was betrayed to the Jews in a garden, and I was crucified in a garden.    

See on my face the spittle I received in order to restore to you the life I once breathed into you. See there the marks of the blows I received in order to refashion your warped nature in my image. On my back see the marks of the scourging I endured to remove the burden of sin that weighs upon your back. See my hands, nailed firmly to a tree, for you who once wickedly stretched out your hand to a tree.   

I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side for you who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side has healed the pain in yours. My sleep will rouse you from your sleep in hell. The sword that pierced me has sheathed the sword that was turned against you.

Rise, let us leave this place. The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise. I will not restore you to that paradise, but I will enthrone you in heaven. I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life, but see, I who am life itself am now one with you. I appointed cherubim to guard you as slaves are guarded, but now I make them worship you as God. The throne formed by cherubim awaits you, its bearers swift and eager. The bridal chamber is adorned, the banquet is ready, the eternal dwelling places are prepared, the treasure houses of all good things lie open. The kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity.

So brothers and sisters in Christ, let us recommit our lives to our Risen Lord Jesus Christ and follow Him sincerely all the way home into our Father’s infinite Life and Love.