My dear brothers and sisters, it is with great joy that we celebrate once again the glorious Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ! Alleluia! As we have journeyed to the Cross over the Lenten Season we can now glory in the victory won upon it over the course of the Easter Season. Here are some words from a homily by St. Ephrem the Deacon, a Doctor of the Church who lived in the 4th Century:
“Death trampled our Lord underfoot, but he in his turn treated death as a highroad for his own feet. He submitted to it, enduring it willingly, because by this means he would be able to destroy death in spite of itself. Death had its own way when our Lord went out from Jerusalem carrying his cross; but when by a loud cry from that cross he summoned the dead from the underworld, death was powerless to prevent it.
Death slew him by means of the body which he had assumed, but that same body proved to be the weapon with which he conquered death. Concealed beneath the cloak of his manhood, the godhead engaged death in combat; but in slaying our Lord, death itself was slain. It was able to kill natural human life, but was itself killed by the life that is above the nature of man.
Death could not devour our Lord unless he possessed a body, neither could hell swallow him up unless he bore our flesh; and so he came in search of a chariot in which to ride to the underworld. This chariot was the body which he received from the Virgin; in it he invaded death’s fortress, broke open its strongroom and scattered all its treasure.
He who was also the carpenter’s glorious son set up his cross above death’s all-consuming jaws and led the human race into the dwelling place of life Since a tree had brought about the downfall of mankind, it was upon a tree that mankind crossed over to the realm of life. Bitter was the branch that had once been grafted upon that ancient tree, but sweet the young shoot that has now been grafted on, the shoot in which we are meant to recognize the Lord whom no creature can resist.
We give glory to you, Lord, who raised by your cross to span the jaws of death like a bridge by which souls might pass from the region of the dead to the land of the living. You are incontestably alive. Your murderers sowed your living body in the earth as farmer sow grain, but it sprang up and yielded an abundant harvest of men raised from the dead.
Come then, my brothers and sisters, let us offer our Lord the great and all-embracing sacrifice of our love, pouring out our treasury of hymns and prayers before him who offered his cross in sacrifice to God for the enrichment of us all.”
A blessed and joyful Easter to all of you and your families!