Saturday, April 23, 2011

Prayer and Worship: Busy in Vigil

While we are feeling sad, dark and empty on Holy Saturday, with no Christ, no community, no hope, Jesus is busy. Unlike some traditions that think of him "resting" or "sleeping" in the tomb during the three holy days, there is an ancient sermon that reveals his work as a poison pill to death and hell.


"Something strange is happening-there is a great silence on earth today, a
great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King
is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in
the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world
began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear.

"He has gone to search for our first parent, as for a lost sheep. Greatly
desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he
has gone to free from sorrow the captives Adam and Eve, he who is both God
and the son of Eve. 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 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 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."

From an ancient homily for Holy Saturday

1 comment:

  1. This is wonderful. Whose ancient homily is it? Can you cite a source for it, please?


    Sr. Gloriamarie CoS CAM