A Homily for Easter
Text: St. Mark 16:1-8
Grace to you and peace from God our Heavenly Father and Christ Jesus our Risen Lord, the Victorious One who has shattered the bonds of Sin and Death. Amen.
In the beginning, the Lord God created the cosmos, forming humanity from the dust, and placed us in the Garden. And all was very good. But there was more to come.
Our first parents rebelled against God and were cast out Eden. Then Cain slew Abel. And humanity continued to seek after their own ways, turning ever more to violence. The Lord sent a flood, unmaking creation but delivering Noah and his family through the waters. After the Flood, God made a covenant, a divine promise, with creation itself, promising all the world that destruction and death would not have the final word. And there was more to come.
The Lord appeared to Abram and Sarai, continuing that covenant, blessing the entire world through their family, through Isaac and Jacob and the twelve sons of Israel. Despite this family’s dysfunction and their repeated failure, God remained faithful. The Lord watched over Joseph in Egypt and delivered Jacob’s family from famine. And there was more to come.
A generation later, a new Pharaoh who knew not Joseph enslaved Israel’s descendants. The Lord heard their cry and sent Moses and Aaron and Miriam to lead them through the waters and renewed the covenant at Mount Sinai. As the people continued to rebel and complain and set up false idols, as they wandered lost in the wilderness for forty years, God upheld them in steadfast love, sending bread from heaven and water from a rock. When they came to the Land of Promise, the Lord sent Joshua to lead them through the waters of the Jordan. And there was more to come.
The Lord sent judges and prophets to lead the people, and King Saul and King David. And David sinned, but God still remained steadfast, renewing the covenant yet again. Then came Solomon and a divided kingdom and the perils of powerful empires competing for the small but important narrow strip of land between Africa and Asia. The kingdom split, and the people in the north were carted away by the Assyrians, lost to history, before the Babylonians came to take the southern kingdom into Exile. But there was more to come.
The Lord delivered the people from captivity again, leading them again through the wilderness back into the Land of Promise, renewing again the covenant. Jerusalem and the Temple were rebuilt. And for five centuries, as empires came and went, as the people sinned, repented, and sinned again, the Lord remained faithful. And there was more to come.
When the fullness of time arrived, a young, unmarried woman was with child. Her fiancé understandably worried about what this might mean for them. When the emperor declared a census, this young couple traveled far from home, took shelter in a barn, and the child was born to the Blessed Virgin Mary and Joseph.
On a dark night in December, we gathered with candle light and joined with shepherds and angels in singing the praises of this newborn child, Jesus the Christ, who is called God-with-us. And there was more to come.
Jesus was baptized in the river Jordan by his cousin John, and the sky opened up as the Father proclaimed Jesus “the beloved Son.” Christ was driven out into the wilderness, tempted for forty days. Overcoming this time of trial, he returned and began to work wondrous miracles and to teach as one with authority. He called disciples to follow him and fish for people,sending them out to proclaim the Kingdom of God. He cast out demons and healed the sick. Christ climbed Mount Tabor and was transfigured, showing his divine majesty and was again revealed to be the beloved Son. And there was more to come.
As the Passover approached, Christ went up to Jerusalem. He was greeted with palm branches and a parade, heralded as the Son of David. The cheers went up: “Hosanna in the highest! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!” But there was more to come.
The crowd turned against him. The religious leaders and the Romans hatched a plot. As the danger around him grew, Christ sat down with his closest disciples, sharing a meal, washing their feet, handing over a new commandment: that they love one another. He gave them bread and wine, telling them that it was his Body and Blood, a sign of the renewed covenant for the forgiveness of sins. And there was more to come.
He was handed over to the Romans to be beaten and crucified. He was tortured and taunted, nailed to the cross. There, he died, and was laid in a tomb.
There was more to come.
On the third day, the first day of a new week, as the faithful women went to care for Jesus’ body, the tomb was found empty. An angel appeared to them, proclaiming the Resurrection. The women ran, struck silent by fear. But there is more to come!
The women went to Peter and the rest of the disciples and proclaimed this Good News, the first to preach the Gospel of our Lord’s Resurrection! And Christ, who had been dead, appeared first to Mary Magdalene and then Peter and the rest of the disciples!
Christ is risen! Alleluia!
It has all been building up to this; Christ’s life is not some isolated event but the culmination of all history. From Creation and the expulsion of our Adam and Eve from the Garden, through the Flood, and Abraham and Sarah, through the Exodus, and King David, and the Babylonian Exile, history has been building to this one person, Jesus of Nazareth, the fulfillment of God’s covenant with humanity.
And his life led to this one week: when he entered into Jerusalem, ate with his disciples, and was crucified as a bandit. But even crucifixion could not stop God’s great mercy. His death has led to new and everlasting life.
The grave has been torn open, Death overturned, the power of Sin has been vanquished.
Today, we hear of our deliverance, our salvation. We have been redeemed from the power of sin, rescued from the grave, saved from Death. And there is more to come.
All that we fear has been conquered. Violence, Sin, and Death have been defeated; their days are numbered and our victory through Christ is assured. Because Christ lives, we know that we, too, shall live; at the last day, our Risen Lord will call us out of our graves into new and everlasting life.
United into Christ’s life through the waters of Baptism, delivered from the fear of Death, we are sent out to share this Good News, to proclaim the Gospel, to preach salvation, just as the women were on that first day of the new creation.
With nothing to fear and everything to gain, Christ is commissioning us to go into the world, proclaiming repentance and new life in the Kingdom of God, breaking into this world through the shattered tomb.
Christ’s ministry continues in the world to this day through the Church. You, dear ones, are part of this long and unfolding story that began before the foundation of the world. You, kindred, are part of this covenant, a recipient of God’s great mercy and steadfast love.
Life has triumphed over Death; Grace has triumphed over Sin; our Victorious Lord has won the day and is making all things new. Into this new life, there is so much more to come.
Amen. Amen. Amen.