Thursday, May 05, 2011

Raised for Judgment - A Homily

The following is the gist of the homily I delivered this morning in chapel; this is a speech-to-text version from last night.The gospel reading can be found HERE.

in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Christ is risen!

We've worked our way through about a week and ½ of Paschal celebration. We’ve heard beautiful hymns like "The Angel Cried," wherein words such as "Christ has raised all the dead" have been sung, our church is decked out in white, we’ve censed everything imaginable, we’ve shouted and sung "Christ is risen" in every conceivable language and--maybe most noticeably--we’ve put the paschal icon of the Harrowing of Hell in the center of the church and see that Christ has trampled down death and given life to those in the tombs.

But brothers and sisters, he has not just raised the dead. The dead will be raised, we hear in our reading today, in order that one day the Son of God would judge all mankind. We hear that "all those in the tombs will hear his voice: those who have done good will be raised to life, and those who’ve done evil we’ll be raised to condemnation."

What we're called to do today is to unlock our gaze from just looking at the Paschal icon, and to look up here [points to the icon to the right of the royal doors] to the icon of Jesus Christ as the one who will judge us. We all know about the parts of scripture that talk about our judgment--Matthew 25, the sheep and the goats--we talk about doing the things to the least of these--feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and those in prison--and after all of this, along with today's reading, we know that it is not just about evil that we’ve avoided doing--I know I hear arguments of "I'm a good person, I haven't killed anyone, I don't cheat on my taxes, I don't cheat on my girl" all the time when I'm in the hospital--but it’s also about good that we actually do or have failed to do.

But what this means, of course, is that if God, as we pray in Vespers, would be strict in marking iniquities with any of us, none of us could stand. God has as all dead to rights.

But the beautiful thing about the reading today is that we’re not just of dealing with a judge who is the Son of God; we’re also to look at the One who is the Son of Man. So we don’t just look at the icon of Christ as judge, but we also look at this icon [points to the left of the royal doors] of Christ as the Son of Man. We read in the Hebrews that we don’t just have a Judge who is the Son of God, but we have a High Priest Who is sympathetic with our weaknesses, Who’s been tempted in every aspect of our lives--yet without sin--so that we can come confidently before the throne of grace and have mercy and grace to help us in our time of need. So there's hope as we strive to fulfill the commandments of Christ, for we come to the One who has suffered with us to help us in our failings.

So brothers and sisters--as we continue on in our Paschal celebration, let us remember that the Paschal icon is still the focus in the Church; Christ is still risen, but let’s remember why he’s become a man: He has become a man to die, to trample down death by that death, to rise from the dead, so that you and I can be made to bear fruit, to be made into to those who will be judged as good and faithful servants, and thus pass from death unto fullness of life. Amen. Christ is risen.

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