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God Has the Last Word

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Sermon shared by W Pat Cunningham

March 2013
Summary: Holy Saturday is a time to contemplate the victory of Christ even in defeat.
Denomination: Catholic
Audience: General adults
Holy Saturday 2013
Holy Week 2013

The Son of God died, and was buried. The one who had kept Peter’s mother-in-law from dying, who raised the son of the widow at Naim and the daughter of Jairus, and even four-days-dead Lazarus was Himself in the tomb. A few guards sleepily watch over the stone sepulchre. Their duty is light and short–the process of death is thought to be over in four days when the body is clearly being destroyed. Our liturgy today envisions Jesus in a kind of after-death slumber.

The Church envisions Him in triumph while the world sees Him ready to be forgotten. The Apostles’ Creed declares “He descended into hell,” but that does not mean the abode of the condemned. Our ancient homily today tells the tail in liturgical language. Adam is seen as presiding over the congregation he founded in failure: Dominus vobiscum. Jesus responds: et cum spiritu tuo. They are blessing each other. Jesus announces to these souls in prison, in the words of Scripture, that they are about to be led out of the dungeon into a place of joy and freedom.

Our culture has corrupted the notion and words of freedom almost totally. Modern Americans interpret “liberty” as “license to do whatever you feel like.” That means slavery, not freedom, because our passions, left uncontrolled by mind and will, take hold of us and lead us to the lowest place, not the highest. True liberty is the power and freedom to do good and avoid evil. The environment today makes it easier to do evil–look at what the Supreme Court is being asked to corrupt on a national and forever level–the very sacrament of marriage.

This day is a day of contemplation of God’s gift, because we know what tomorrow brings. Tomorrow is the Great Eighth Day, the day when God gets the last word, when Jesus is granted the name above every other name in deference to his emptying Himself and doing the Father’s will. Because He is Lord, we can have confidence that the world’s victory is only temporary, and that through the pain of our witness to the truth, the Truth who is a Person will indeed set us and our children and our grandchildren free.
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