APRIL 12, 2020 EASTER SUNDAY OF THE RESURRECTION OF THE LORD SOLEMNITY
FOCUS: “Who is my opponent? I,” he says, “am the Christ. I am the one who destroyed death, and triumphed over the enemy, and trampled Hades under foot, and bound the strong one, and carried off man to the heights of heaven, I,” he says, “am the Christ.”
These words in an early second-century homily from Melito of Sardis, Bishop of Sardis, serve to help our understanding and appreciation of just what we are celebrating today. Especially, in fact, if we can imagine the bishop delivering these words in the same way that has occurred in movies: When King Leonidas of Sparta says “this is Sparta,” in 300; or William Wallace yells “freedom!” in Braveheart.
It is not an entirely bad image, for Jesus Christ is indeed our warrior King, although not in the temporal, political sense. We are not called to arms against earthly enemies. In fact, we are not called to arms at all because – victory has been won! His resurrection is our resurrection (Cf. Romans 6:5); his life is our life; his kingdom is our kingdom.
And while in the Gospel today Mary of Magadala, Simon Peter, and the other disciple did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead, we are privy to the full story and the history of the Church which commissions us as witnesses. We testify that[Jesus] is the one appointed by God as judge of the living and the dead … [and] that everyone who believes in him will receive forgiveness of sins through his name.
These are not just nice words we heard in the reading from Acts. These are not “just claims” that perhaps we have heard so many times that we sort of gloss over them. This is victory over sin and death! A gift given to us in the most merciful and generous way possible. This is not an end – as many who surrounded Jesus may have thought – but a beginning. We celebrate the Resurrection as the day, as our psalm says, when The right hand of the LORD has struck with power.
“Therefore,” Melito continues his homily, “come, all families of men, you who have been befouled with sins, and receive forgiveness for your sins. [Christ is] your forgiveness, [Christ is] the passover of your salvation, [Christ is] the lamb which was sacrificed for you, [Christ is] your ransom … your light … your savior … your king.”
On this most solemn and yet triumphant day of all days, may we vow to carry this joyful, regal message of salvation to others, for we are compelled by virtue of our baptism to share that Good News with the world. “For who is [Christ’s] opponent? After all, he is the Christ. [He is] the one who destroyed death, and triumphed over the enemy, and trampled Hades under foot.” All praise to Christ our victor King, ever reigning.