D. G. Phillips
LaHave, Broad Cove, Petite Riviere, March 22-23, AD 2008
3:1-11 John 20:1-10
Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us:
therefore let us keep the feast!
Today our Gospel
takes us to that first day of the rebirth of mankind. We are
brought to the garden tomb following Mary Magdalene. She came with
spices for anointing his body. We have come with prayers and our
affection for our Lord. She, who had been made whole by Jesus,
delivered of seven demons, had the greatest devotion to His sacred
body, and went, despite the danger – love made her bold.
There is no
appearance of Jesus in the Gospel, not yet. She found only the tomb
empty and the stone rolled away. She runs to Peter and John to tell
them “they have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we
know not where they have laid him.” Peter and John run to the
tomb, and it is John who “saw, and believed” – the first human being
ever to believe in the Resurrection.
And we’ve had
this sacred text put before us by the Church on Easter Day, (for
well over a thousand years) because, at this moment, like them,
we have not seen our Lord’s risen body, and yet we are
encouraged to believe. Jesus will say to
Thomas when he appeared the following week to the Apostles,
Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.
We have not
seen, yet we have believed. We are truly blessed.
resurrection vindicates His offering on the Cross. His offering was
accepted by the Father – we are truly forgiven by His sacrifice.
What he said would happen, happened – He is true to his word.
resurrection is a foretaste of our resurrection to eternal life.
And He couldn’t
have made it more clear. St. Paul says,
he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:
after that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; ….
After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And
last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.
We will be
clothed with a mysterious spiritual body like His in the general
resurrection. And this fills us with a holy hope, a hope for
ourselves, a hope for our loved ones, a hope which
reaches up into heaven.
Our Epistle, is
given to us today by the Church to fill us with an even greater
hope. That hope is, that we might begin to participate in the
Resurrection in this life. It is that we might know the joy and
pleasure that comes from the fulfillment of our hope even now.
St. Paul says in
risen with Christ
life is hid with Christ in God (even now!)…Christ
is our life (even now!)…ye also shall appear with Him in
We know it
somewhat. We have through our baptism been joined not to a dead
saviour, but to the risen Lord. His living Spirit in our hearts, is
what compels us to cry, Abba, Father. We know the joy of
true forgiveness, after the night of sorrow. We know the surprising
renewal of love, after the night of sadness at its death. We dwell
not in death, but in Him who is Life, and He, alive, dwells in us.
We are risen
with Christ, even now.
Yet…we would all
like to know it more, wouldn’t we?
And there is
something we can do to know more of that resurrection life even now.
For those of you
who have been in the Lenten studies on the passions, this Epistle
summarizes really all of what we discussed for the last four weeks.
We have desire
in our hearts reaching out to be satisfied. It can get stuck in
several ways, and when we are caught in these ways, we do not know
the joy and pleasure of the Resurrection life.
The good news
is, we needn’t be stuck there, because the risen Lord dwells in us,
helping us to guide our desire heavenward, so that…
loving our neighbour’s harm, we seek our neighbour’s wellbeing. We
can put off, as St. Paul says, wrath, anger, malice,
slander, filthy talk out of our mouths.
angry, we seek instead to be reconciled with the one who makes us
angry, to redress the injustice; and if that is not possible, we are
given grace to forgive, instead allowing bitterness to take hold in
our hearts, making us dead to the Spirit.
Instead of our
desire being wasted fruitlessly in various ways as St. Paul says,
fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil desire, and
covetousness, which is idolatry
our desire is
directed at possessing the things of heaven:
the riches of
his glory –
virtues and spiritual gifts
our hearts by
comprehend … and to know the love of Christ,
to be filled
with all the fulness of God.
This is the
Resurrection life, and we can know it even now. Our disordered
desire is the very thing that prevents us knowing and experiencing
more fully the Resurrection life now. This is what St. Paul says to
The kingdom of
heaven is within us – and Jesus will unlock the doors to that
kingdom by His presence, now. It involves from our side,
living a life of holiness and righteousness: Mortifying,
putting to death sinful passions, and allowing Him to refashion
us unto knowledge according the image of our creator; in other
words, allowing Jesus to refashion us so we become more like God.
Today we are
here first and foremost, to adore and to give thanks for the
Resurrection of our Lord. And Jesus has given us a way to do this,
the Eucharist, a word meaning, “Thankgiving”.
So let us
participate in that Passover Feast of the Lamb that was once-for-all
sacrificed for us. In this Feast we know true joy inwardly, because
our desire finds its true fulfillment here, in Christ.
remember in this Sacrament our Lord’s death, it is not His dead
flesh that we partake of, but His risen presence. Jesus says,
living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so
he that eateth me, even he shall live by me… he that eateth
of this bread shall live for ever.
Christ is risen!
the Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia!