Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Destroying our Enemies

The whirl of events these past several days has put me behind some, but now I'd like to go back to the night of Great Holy Friday.  Here is part of my favorite hymn from the 'Lamentations' Service.

Earth covers Me by My own will. But the doorkeepers of Hades shudder and quake, seeing Me clothed in a robe spattered with revenge.

WHAT?  Jesus, out for revenge?  And surely it is His own blood spattered on His robe?  Whoever heard of taking revenge by spilling your own blood instead of someone else's?

Yet that is exactly what the verse means.  For this revenge is against bloodless enemies, against all the forms of evil that torment the human race.  Above all, and the summary of them all, is death, but included are aso such plagues as despair, hatred, wickedness, grief, and the like.  He has already overcome them on the Cross (by not giving in to them) but now he is about to abolish them for us all, by destroying their root:  death.

And just how, please tell, does He go about doing such a thing a that?

When You, O Immortal Life, came down to death, then You killed death through the dazzling brightness of Your Godhead; and when You raised up the dead from the abyss, all the powers of heaven cried aloud;  Christ, our God, Giver of Life, Glory to You.
You dazzle 'em, that's how!  You chase away  the darkness with endless Light.  You drown hatred with infinite, unconditional Love.  You replace grief with unspeakable Joy.  You fill up the emptiness of death with unending Life.  You thereby destroy Hades (death)  and transform the grave into paradise.

 Truly, Hades was pierced and destroyed by the divine life when received in its heart Him who was pierced in His side with a spear for the salvation of us who sing:  Blessed are You, O delivering God.
But wait a minute; we still die, don't we?  We all still die.

What is meant is, now we do not experience death as the ancients thought of it ; we do not become bodiless and ever-diminishing shades living in a shadowy underworld (Hades) without hope, without God.

Nor do we experience death as it is thought of today,  a condition rather than a place, a winking out into permanent oblivion.

True, our spirit leaves our body, which then rots.  But now that God has descended even to death, neither our soul nor body is ever separated from God.  We are never separated, that is, from Life, from Love, from Joy, from Goodness, from Hope.

As for our bodies, without which we are no longer human beings, though they be eaten by worms, on the Last Day, God will give us back familiar yet glorified versions of them, bodies such as the one in which He Himself arose.

The tomb is happy, having become Divine when it received within it the Treasure of Life, the Creator, as one who slumbers for the salvation of us who sing:  Blessed are You, O delivering God. 
The Life of all was willing to lie in a grave ... making it appear as the fountain of the Resurrection for the salvation of us who sing:  Blessed are You, O delivering God.