The Prelate’s Sermon, Sunday, April 17
Today, Christendom celebrates the timeless Miracle, the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, who was thought to be dead and buried. Those who surrounded Him, His mother and the disciples, the Jewish authorities, and the Roman soldiers were convinced that the myth of Jesus of Nazareth was finished. From a human perspective it appeared to be true; but what the Crucified One said and meant about His Life and death was very clear. He had fulfilled all the prophecies foretold about the Messiah. He had fulfilled whatever He had taught, from praying for one’s enemies to the Atonement of the Lamb of God. And lo! following all the necessary steps taken by those who crucified Him, by sealing the tomb and keeping it under the surveillance of Roman soldiers, on the first day of the week, when the oil-bearing women came to offer the traditional anointment to the deceased, they were surprised, frightened, and perplexed being welcomed by an Angel with an incredible announcement: “I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He has been raised, as He said. Come! see the place where He lay” (Mt 28:6).
The assumed end of the slaughtered Lamb became the endless beginning of the re-Creation and the Renewal for all Mankind. Indeed, the former, Old Testament commandment to sacrifice animals was made irrelevant because Jesus was sacrificed once and for all (Heb 10:10). Jesus fulfilled the prophecy: “He has borne our infirmities, carried our diseases, was wounded for our transgressions” (Is 53:4-5), and became the Eternal Sacrifice (cf. Jn 1:29). The domination of the Evil one’s power has been trampled by the death of the Savior (1 Cor 15:27) because those who accept the Risen Lord have been granted the power to become the children of God (Jn 1:9). The yoke of the Law has ended, and the era of Grace has dawned.
We are told that Mary Magdalene and the Oil-bearing women, then Peter and John, then the Disciples gathered in the Upper Room, the two travelers to Emmaus, and finally Thomas, all met Jesus in Person (cf. Mark 16:1 and 1 Cor 15:5-8). The mystery of Good Friday was unlocked, and the Mission of the Master was fully understood. Thus, on the Pentecost, being armored with the Power of the Holy Spirit, the witnesses to the Resurrection became the unfailing militants of the Kingdom of Heaven.
The Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ is the full manifestation of God’s Love and supreme power. His love, His patience, and His understanding toward Mankind are infinite, while His tolerance of evil is merciful, yet His sovereignty is supreme. The ultimate verdict of judgment belongs to Him and only to Him. The Apostles empowered with this truth challenged all the challenges of the world. Nothing could separate them from the love of Christ (Rm 8:35), and nothing could stop them from spreading the Good News.
The history of the pilgrimage of the Church throughout the centuries is the record of the sacred mission of illuminating the darkness of the world with the light of the ever-shining knowledge of Resurrection, joined by miracles, love, peace, joy, and the promise of the eternal Life.
The Betrayal, the Crucifixion, the Burial, and the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, as much as they are facts in history, are a continuous reality in each and every generation as Saint Paul says: “For if we have united in a death like His, we will certainly be united with Him in resurrection” (Rom 6:5). With this understanding as the ambassadors of the Risen Lord, our prime duty should be to share the Good News of the love and sovereignty of God in word and in deed. We should never hesitate to do so because He is the Alpha and the Omega, and as such, we are all accountable only to Him.
With this understanding as the children of the Resurrection, let us all sing a new song and rejoice: “Christ is Risen from the dead! By His death He has trampled upon Death itself, and through His Resurrection He has granted us life. Glory be to Him forever!”