homily for 05/01/05 - PASCHA
- On Holy Friday Joseph of Arimathaea took down the body of Christ from the
Cross and wrapped in spices and fine linen. He took the body and placed it
in a new tomb and sealed the tomb with a stone. On Holy Friday we stand
before a tomb that is full - full in the sense that it is occupied by the
body of a man who has died. But the tomb is also empty - it is empty of
life. The body laid to rest in the tomb is no longer living, it has no
life. The tomb though it is full is empty.
On the morning of Pascha, the myrrhbearing women came to the tomb and found
it empty - that is the stone was rolled away and the body that had been
placed there was gone. However, although the tomb was empty, it was full of
life and light and an angel sat on the stone, which had been rolled away and
proclaimed to the women the good news: Christ is Risen! The tomb, which
was empty, was indeed full of life.
What a difference the Resurrection has made. The full yet empty tomb was
sealed shut and gave forth nothing. The full yet empty tomb brought forth
only weeping and mourning. The full yet empty tomb appeared to be a symbol
of defeat and despair. If the Gospel had ended here - if there had been no
resurrection - then there would have been no joy, no hope, only sorrow, only
despair. But the tomb did not remain full. On the third day, the sealed
tomb was opened for it was suddenly too full to remain closed. The formerly
full but empty tomb was emptied of the Body of the Risen Christ and from it
now flowed life and with that life, victory, hope and joy. The empty but
full tomb wipes away all sorrow, all fear, all despair and all death and
instead from it pours forth joy, hope, and life. What a difference the
Resurrection has made.
This is the great paradox of Christianity - the life-giving tomb. Usually
we think of a tomb as a place of death, lifeless and to be avoided. Yet it
is from a tomb - a tomb that is empty of death and full of life - that we
draw our very life. It is from a tomb that our life in Christ flows like a
river rushing around us and over us, immersing us and filling us. Christ is
Risen and death is over thrown - the tomb is empty and yet is full of life.
It is from this empty and yet full life giving tomb that the Gospel is
proclaimed to us for the first time and for eternity. Why seek ye the
living among the dead - Christ is Risen!