30 March 2013

Ancient Homily for Holy Saturday

Something strange is happening - there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear.

He has gone to search for our first parent, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrows the captives Adam and Eve, he who is both God and the son of Eve. The Lord approached them bearing the cross, the weapon that had won him the victory. At the sight of him Adam, the first man he had created, struck his breast in terror and cried out to everyone: "My Lord be with you all." Christ answered him: "And with your spirit." 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 am your God, who for your sake has become your son. Out of love for you and for your descendants I now by my own authority command all who are held in bondage to come forth, all who are in darkness to be enlightened, all who are sleeping to arise. I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be held a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead. 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; together we form only one person and we cannot be separated.

For your sake I, your God, became your son; I, the Lord, took the form of a slave; I, whose home is above the heavens, descended to the earth and beneath the earth. For your sake, for the sake of man, I became like a man without help, free among the dead. For the sake of you, who left a garden, I was betrayed in a garden, and I was crucified in a garden.

See on my face the spittle I received in order to restore to you the life I once breathed into you. See there the marks of the blows I received in order to refashion your warped nature in my image. On my back see the marks of the scourging I endured to remove the burden of sin that weighs upon your back. See my hands, nailed firmly to a tree, for you who once wickedly stretched out your hand to a tree.

I slept on a cross and a sword pierced my side for you who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side has healed the pain in yours. My sleep will rouse you from your sleep in hell. The sword that pierced me has sheathed the sword that turned against you.

Rise, let us leave this place. The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise. I will not restore you to that paradise, but I will enthrone you in heaven. I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life, but see, I who am life itself am now one with you. I appointed cherubim to guard you as slaves are guarded, but now I make them worship you as God. The throne formed by the cherubim awaits you, its bearers swift and eager. The bridal chamber is adorned, the banquet is ready, the eternal dwelling places are prepared, the treasure houses of all good things lie open. The kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity.

--An Ancient Homily, read at Matins of Holy Saturday


Unknown said...

Why no author attribution? This is Bishop Melito of Sardis (d. 180), an Orthodox father (maybe that's why you were hesitant).

William Weedon said...

No hesitation whatsoever. But I was under the impression that it was only ATTRIBUTED to Melito.

Sooner or later you will come to "get" that Lutherans consider such men fathers of the church. We don't concede that they are "Orthodox" or "Catholic" in the modern sense of those terms, both of which are anachronistic. They were fathers of an undivided Church which was at once apostolic, catholic, and orthodox.

Unknown said...

They are fathers of an undivided apostolic, catholic and orthodox church. The issue is that you are outside the church and that you can lay no claim to them.

William Weedon said...

So very sad that you think that way. I'll leave it at that.

Weekend Fisher said...

Beautiful. Thank you for posting.

Erm, it's difficult to mention it right now but I'm hoping you'll take it in the spirit it's meant: I'd rather have seen the attribution, myself. I clicked on the comments hoping someone had asked about the attribution & it had been given. Sad that I found something else, glad you handled the confrontation so graciously. But for all that, I'd love to see attributions or sourcing on something like that -- mostly because I'd love to quote it, & would need some idea of my own how to trace it.

'Nuff said.

Take care & God bless
Anne / WF