09 April 2007

Christ's Resurrection is the Foundation of Our Faith

The following is an excerpt from the sermon preached during the Resurrexi Mass at Holy Incarnation Orthodox Church. You may read the full sermon here.

The foundation of our faith is not the death of Our Lord Jesus Christ. For His death by itself gains us nothing. By itself, Our Lord’s death is nothing more than the death of another innocent man for a righteous cause. By itself, Our Lord’s death is simply the death of another hero. And, by itself, Our Lord’s death produces in us nothing but fear and trembling.

The power in Our Lord’s death is not that He died. The power is that He rose from the dead. The strength of Our Lord’s death is not that He entered the grave. The strength is that He burst open the gates of the grave. The impressiveness of Our Lord’s death is not that He confronted Satan, but that He robbed Satan of His deadly power. And so it is His resurrection from the dead which gives force and might, and significance and meaning to His death. Our Lord’s resurrection elevates His death above the death of all men. And so, not His crucifixion, but His resurrection is the foundation of our faith.

St Paul says this plainly when he declares that “if Christ be not risen again, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.” What do these words mean? Only that Our Lord’s death gains us nothing unless He rose from the dead. “But now Christ is risen from the dead, the firstfruits of them that sleep.” And since He is risen, our faith is not in vain. Neither is it vain for us to receive His body and blood in this Holy Mass. For now, because of His resurrection, His sacrifice has power and meaning. And more than that, because of His resurrection, the Holy Spirit is able to give us a share in Christ’s sacrifice by letting us partake of the self same body and blood that was sacrificed on the cross. And not only sacrificed, but also then raised from the dead to be the fruit which enables us to live.

So while we celebrate the sacrifice and death of Our Lord, we do so only because of His resurrection. For without rising from the dead, Our Lord’s death is just another death. But because of His resurrection, His death has meaning.

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