“JESUS LIVES THE VICTORY’S WON”
Saint Luke 7.11-17
16th Sunday after Trinity: 5 October Anno + Domini 2014
Fr Jay Watson SSP
In The + Name of Jesus
Before God and man you just confessed that you “look for the resurrection of the dead.” You also maintain a belief in your Baptismal + Creed “the resurrection of the body.” Do you? Do you believe that the dead rise again? Do you believe in God or do you only call out in fear and pain in those times of distress to your own conscience and sense of fairness or frustration?
“Now if Christ be preached that He rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?” [1 Cor. 15.12] That was Pauls question to the doubters of Corinth. It is Law spoken against your cowardly “old Adam” as well. “But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then is not Christ risen. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” [vv. 13,16,19] If Christ is indeed triumphant over the tomb, and if you are “in Him,” than you too have conquered mortality. Believe His Word and Believe Him! “But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying. ‘I Am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?’ God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.” [Mt. 2231-33]
Not everyone you meet is a Christian. Not everyone you hope will be saved or that you pray for will necessarily be saved. But everyone you meet is eternal. Everyone matters. Every soul is eternal. And the Christian truth is that every body—flesh and blood—is also eternal! There was a popular “catch phrase” (popular for only a few months as they all seem to be) in the mid-90s that kids had emblazoned on tee-shirts and ball caps that said “No Fear!” It was of course used in a totally secular, self-help way, but nonetheless could be, and must be, a Christian’s motto when facing sin and its consequences.
Your reaction to Ebola, or any new H1N1 flu strain, Cancer, ALS, or the zombie apocalypse should be, and must be, the same reaction as your Christian forbears reaction to the Black Death, the death of countless American Christians during the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic, the Viking destruction on the British isles, the Visigoth sacking of Rome, or Nero’s slaughter of the Saints in the Coliseum: “Fear not!” That phrase is used over 170 times in Sacred Scripture. Your Lord speaks “fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” [Mt. 10.28].
Repent of your fear and your yellow spiritual streak. Trust not in princes but in He who gave courage to David in the face of a monster giant, Daniel amongst lions, the three men in a fiery furnace, and Elisha surrounded by a Syrian army. “And He answered, fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.” [2 Ki. 6.16]
And weep not as those who have no hope. For even when your fortitude in the face of your own death is buoyed up by your Baptismal + life vest, you will still feel the salt-sting of tears at the loss of dear loved ones. Placing mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, children, and spouses into the ground, into the grave, will be as devastating and tragic for you as for the woman of Nain!
Jesus has the same mercy on you in your loss, emptiness, and pain as did for her “and when the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her, and said unto her, weep not.”
Not everyone who dies is then brought back to earthly life for a few more years by God. Two young children in the Old Testament were. The Christ Himself raised three dead persons back to more earthly years. But living a few more years, or few less years, in this broken, decaying, sin-filled, post-Eden world is not what Jesus has in store for you. Satan is the prince of the air and the marauder of this crumbling planet. Al Gore and the fake-eco alarmists are wrong, of course, but it’s not wrong to believe that the earth, as is, will come to an end when Christ returns at the Parousia! The end is near.
The wages of sin is death. You will die because you are sinner—that part of Gods judgment on Adam and his children remains. And yes, it is horrible and gut-wrenching, and not right. Only God is right. Only Jesus is right—Righteous! Jesus took all the pain of you losing loved ones, all the fear of your own death, all the corruption, change, decay, and fetid dust of every crypt, and carried it IN His own perfect body to the tree. “He came and touched the bier.” Jesus came and touched death, the corpse, and said “here I AM death…take me…do your worse…” but to the young dead man, to all of you He said and says “Young man, I say unto thee, Arise.”
Christ’s victory at Nain shows His Divinity. His miracle proves His identity and gives His Church another taste of the Banquet to come…another reminder of the joys awaiting the Church victorious. But also, in not raising everyone who dies their earthly death, He reminds us that we still live under the Cross of suffering and servanthood. We still, with Paul, fight the fight, run the race, and push on towards the prize. But we all march in a parade that is indeed a celebratory victory parade. Christ has won! All that death takes from us, and it does…it takes and takes and takes…is stopped cold when it took our Lord on the Cross…and in the hillside sepulchre. “And He will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the vail that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death in victory.” [Is. 25.7-8a]
Jesus pulls the evil magician’s, the devil’s, cloak (the covering cast, the vail) away to reveal that behind the menace of death, there is the Lamb, once slain, upon the throne “and I beheld, lo, in the midst of the throne…stood a Lamb as it had been slain…And the four beasts said, amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped Him that liveth for ever and ever.” [Rev. 5.6,14]
You have the very Cruciform spine of Christ when He speaks to you in His Church’s hymnody, Psalter, and His own Words. ‘Jesus lives the victory’s won! Death no longer can appal me; Jesus lives! Death’s reign is done! From the grave Christ will recall me. Brighter scenes will then commence; this shall be my confidence!’ [201.1] ‘The strife is o’er the battle done; now is the Victor’s triumph won; now be the song of praise begun, Alleluia.’ [210.1]
“Oh death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” [1 Cor. 15. 55-57]
If Christ is indeed triumphant over the tomb, and if you are “in Him,” than you too have conquered mortality. Believe His Word and Believe Him!
“Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again.
“Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again.
Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.” [Jn. 11.23-25]
On that day the tears will be wiped away for every eye. Downs patients will have the alacrity, poise and wisdom of St. Paul and the Blessed Virgin Mary—times infinity. Every cripple (polio, thalidomide, cp) will dance with the grace of Baryshnikov and Astaire & Rogers—times infinity. Every still born, miscarried, crib-dead, and infant lost to childhood tragedy will stand in Adamic strength and vitality—times infinity. Every parent and grandparent will greet you with shouts of joy and laughter. Your pets will surround you happier than ever—times infinity. The infinite will be the eternal In Jesus!
For where there is forgiveness of sins there is Life!
I forgive you all your sins in:
The Name of The Father and of The + Son and of The Holy Ghost