Friday, April 17, 2009

The Day of Rest

You are, maybe, wondering why I hardly ever write, and am suddenly writing about such a banal thing as politics on this most Holy of Days?

Well, so am I.

I mostly don't write, because I haven't got anything to say. That's probably a good thing, considering how many people out there still blog anyhow when they haven't got anything to say. So, today, I saw Chavez shaking hands with Obama, and I felt proud of my new president, and decided to write about that.

But, what's today really all about?

This is the great Day of Rest. On the Seventh Day, God Rested from all of his Labours. Today, Christ God rests on the greatest Sabbath of all. He rests from his Labours in the tomb!

Yesterday He was murdered. Today He rests in death. Tomorrow He is Risen from the Dead.

Here's one of my favorite passages about Christ's vastness:
(I'm doing this from memory because I don't have a copy of the Divine Liturgy handy and can't find the text on line.) This is something the priest says at the Altar table after he's brought back the Chalice from giving everyone communion. He usually says it under his breath so you can't really hear it, but the text is there in your service book if you want to read that.

"In the tomb with the body, on the throne with the Father and the Spirit, and in Paradise with the thief, art Thou, O Boundless Christ, thyself circumscribed."

The newer translation doesn't use the word "circumscribed." I forget what it uses but it is something else. But the word "circumscribed" is important here, as is the word "uncircumscribed" which you don't see because there they translated it as "boundless".

Christ God is Boundless. That is to say, He cannot be bounded. That is to say, He cannot be contained. He cannot be circumscribed.

Nevertheless, He WAS (and IS) circumscribed. By His own Choice, God the uncircumscibeable became circumscribed. That is to say, he became "contained" and "bounded". That is to say, He was incarnate (took upon himself flesh, carne.)

One can say that the uncircumscribeable God became circumscribed, by His own choice. And as a circumscibed man and yet eternal God, he was in several places at once on this very day. He was laying in the tomb with the Body, he was on the Throne in Heaven as God, and he was in Paradise with the thief. We are talking about the thief who died on the cross next to Christ, here. To whom He said: "This day shall you be with me in Paradise."

How is it that He was in Paradise? Because he died and entered Hades, and as God, overpowered it, and led the captives of Hades free. He lead them into Paradise.

But get this: he also, never left the body!

If you have a notion, a notion that perhaps might be easy to have: that He died and the God part of his nature went one way leaving the man part of his nature (the flesh) alone in the tomb, well, if you have that notion of his Godhead leaving his body at death the way your soul leaves your body at death. Well, that notion would be wrong.

When He Died, His Godhead, His Divinity, it was still fully present inside his dead, fleshly human body. So, in some incomprehensible way, God died.

And yet, because he is God, when He died, He entered Hell and smashed it to smithereens.

This is a glorious day, this day where He is dead in the tomb. Because on the one hand He rests the greatest rest of all. A rest that not even the most technical Jew can say they've ever rested. He kept the sabbath in a manner surpassing all men before Him, because he was dead that day, and resting quietly in His tomb. And yet, because this bounded One was equally boundless, He was still on His Throne in heaven ruling over all, and he was equally in Paradise on this day with the thief.

This day, is in many ways even more special, mind-boggling, and unique than tomorrow is, where we leave time once-and-for all, entering the eigth day of the week. And yet it is tomorrow that defines it. Tomorrow that demonstrates to the universe the triumph of God over the powers of evil, the triumph of man over sin and death. A day in which we cry out "Christ is Risen!"

He is Risen Indeed!


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