By Shelby Hawks
In an ancient homily about the great mystery of Holy Saturday, the author paints a beautiful image of the encounter between Adam and Christ, who is the New Adam, as He descends to the place of the dead. As I was reflecting on the passage, I was struck deeply by the beauty of Christ’s pursuing, chasing, seeking heart that comes running after each one of us as He enters death, conquers it, and emerges from it wholly alive:
“The Lord approached them (Adam and Eve) bearing the cross, the weapon that had won him the victory… He took him by the hand and raised him up saying, ‘Awake, O Sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light… I did not create you to be held a prisoner in hell… Rise up, work of my hands, you who were created in my image. Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in me and I am in you… The bridal chamber is adorned, the banquet is ready, the eternal dwelling places are prepared, the treasure houses of all good things are open. The kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity.”
How glorious this reunion is, brothers and sisters! I encourage you to enter into it with your whole heart and to gain from it an understanding of the Lord’s wild and reckless love for you.
The Lord comes bearing the wooden Cross to help the sinner, who once fell into distrust, find redemption through new trust that this victory is true. He calls the sleepers to arise, the same way He beckons Lazarus out of the tomb, the same way He heals the sick little girl in the gospel of Mark with the famous words, “Talitha koum.” He reminds the sleepers of their identity—you are mine, made in my image. I am in you—sleep no longer, come and taste my Light. He beckons them to arise and come to the heavenly dwelling—the place prepared for them by the blood of Christ. All is ready to welcome home the lost—the Lord waits for them to arise. And I can see it: the joy of Noah as he enters the heavenly ark, the tears of Moses as he finally enters the promised land, the awe of Abraham as he sees his countless descendants. I can see the overwhelming adoration that overcomes Adam and Eve as they understand what their Lord has done for them. And I can see the Heart of God: bursting forth with resplendent glory as the Father welcomes home the souls He has thirsted for since the garden days.
And now he comes to you. See this Cross, see this Body: I am alive and I have conquered—do you believe?
Brothers and sisters, this is our story, our history, our eternity. Jesus Christ loves us so! He conquered death through a Cross and rose victoriously from a rock-hewn tomb so that we might share in the infinite love of the Father and Son, so that we might become partakers of the divine nature, so that we might be welcomed to the feast of heaven and be considered beloved sons and daughters.
He comes to us beckoning us to rise out of this Lenten fast into the abundance of Easter joy. He calls us to muster up all of the faith we have and to trust that even in this time of great sorrow, even in this haze of sadness, even in this seemingly dark night, there is hope, there is new life, and the Resurrection still reigns victoriously.
No matter the darkness that lies around us, even in this time of Easter joy, we must cling to this one hope: Jesus Christ is risen and He is in pursuit of His people. In the midst of deep suffering, the empty tomb reminds us this is not the end, for we will come to the inheritance which was won for us. Continue to seek the Risen Christ, continue to lean in to the Resurrection power that is bursting within your soul. Let us choose joy. We know how the story ends, amen?