Saturday, March 30, 2013

Easter Triumph, Easter Joy!

Minding my own thoughts and trying to focus on the great mystery of Holy Saturday today, I happened to pick up my collection of St. Augustine's sermons and read "Sermon 229N - Preached on the Saturday of the Easter Octave". It spoke to me very eloquently about Christ's victory over sin and death; it assured me of how present His Reign is here and now; it reassured me a bit about the anguished suffering of our brothers and sisters in Christ who live today in the Middle East.

Once before I tried to find a link to an online text of St. Augustine and discovered that the numbering of his sermons presents a challenge. I hope you find this homily and read it in its entirety for yourself. Here's just the last part:

"But that’s where you are too; you are his members. These members, when the head cried out for his members, were being trampled on by that Saul who was previously a persecutor, afterward a preacher, breathing out slaughter, putting off faith. The whole force of his attack crumbled at a single utterance. What utterance? Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? (Acts 9:4) Could Saul so much as throw a stone at heaven, where Jesus is seated? Granted, for the sake of argument, that Saul was in the crowd when Jesus was hanging on the cross; granted that Saul too said with the crowd, Crucify him, crucify him (Lk 23:21); and that he was among those who were shaking their heads in mockery, and saying, If he is the Son of God, let him come down from the cross (Mt 27:40). But what could he do to him when he was seated in heaven? What harm could words do him, what harm yelling, what harm the cross, what harm the spear? Nothing could be done to him now, and yet he cried out “You are persecuting me.” When he cried out “You are persecuting me,” he was indicating that we are his members. And so may the love of Christ, whom we love in you, the love of Christ, whom you love in us, lead us all, among our trials, our temptations, our toils, our sweat, our anxieties, our misfortunes, to where there’s no toil, no misfortune, no groans, no sighs, no vexations; where nobody’s born, nobody dies, nobody has to fear the wrath of the mighty man, all being protected by the countenance of the Almighty God." [Augustine, Saint; Daniel Doyle, O.S.A.; Edmund Hill, O.P. (2007-01-01). Essential Sermons (p. 287). New City Press. Kindle Edition.]

St. Augustine's words remind me of my all-time favorite from the Office of Readings from Holy Saturday, that ancient homily which is one big confusion of referents between Adam and Christ, as the Son of Man descends today to draw the father of mankind out of the depths and into the glory of His Heavenly Kingdom:

“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.”

I surely pray that the Easter Proclamation tonight will help Christ's Body, The Church, cast off weariness and rise from sleep. In Him we are indeed victorious. A word of prophecy over the dry bones, if you please! May there be one fold and one shepherd!


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