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May 7, 2008 + A Dead God? (Part 1)

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by Fr. James C. Meena

Word Magazine, April 1980  

The words spoken by the young man in the long white robe, whom the Ointment-bearing women found at the tomb when they went to anoint the body of Jesus (St. Mark 16:6) ring down through the centuries in the most challenging terms. “You seek” are the first words of this statement; “You seek Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified. He is not here. He is Risen. Behold the place where they laid Him.”

You and I go through life “seeking” day by day. Each of us seeks for different things. Some look for security, some for peace of heart, some for the best formula to get along with our neighbors and families, some for financial and career success, some for intellectual achievement. Each of us has labeled that for which we think we are searching. But in reality each of us is looking for that source of power greater than ourselves by which we might somehow reconcile ourselves with life and with the seeming inequities of life.

clip_image004Let’s face it. No one ever promised that life in this world had to be good or sweet or peaceful or enriched materially or intellectually. Those of us who believe Christ know what we are searching for even though we sometimes feel that the object of our search is nebulous because we becloud that object by our own intellectual thrashing about. We go to the tomb to look for a corpse and yet we can’t accept the statement of the angel who says: I know for whom you are looking . . . You are looking for Him who taught you life. But “He is not here. He is Risen. Look at the place where they laid Him.”

Mary Magdalene, Mary the Mother of James, and Salome and all those faithful women who had been devoted to Christ in His lifetime expressed their loyalty even in His death by coming to His tomb to anoint Him against mortal corruption, to somehow retard the decomposition of that body which they held to be so precious. Even they, when they heard the statement of the angel, were afraid. They went back, according to one of the accounts of the Apostles, “and they said nothing to any man.”

Rather than rejoicing, rather than be filled with the great spirit of victory and the conquest of death by Him who had promised them that He would rise, they were afraid. They could not accept. How like them we are, you and I. We give lip service to our faith, to our Christianity, to being members of the Orthodox Family of God, but when it comes right down to basics we are very much like these pious women. We go to anoint a corpse and we are frustrated when we find not death but a statement of life!

Jesus Christ, and all that which is taught in His name through His Church is not religion. If you believe that being Christian means belonging to a religious institutional body, or if you believe that being Christian means following a “way of life,” then you believe incorrectly. “For I am come that they might have life and that they might have it more abundantly,” (St. John 10:10) said Christ. We have embraced life itself! How dare we to say “He is Risen,” and still worship a dead Messiah? How dare we say that we have embraced Him who has Risen and conquered death and still go through life as if we were going to the tomb to anoint a corpse? (to be continued next week)

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Evangelist John the Theologian, May 8

Troparion of St John the Evangelist Tone 2

Apostle beloved of Christ our God, hasten to deliver a defenseless people. He Who allowed thee to recline on His breast receives thee bowing in prayer, O John the Theologian. Implore Him to dispel heathen persistence and to grant us peace and mercy.

Kontakion of St John the Evangelist Tone 2

Who can tell of thy mighty works, O beloved Saint? Thou didst pour forth miracles. Thou art a source of healing and dost intercede for our souls as Theologian and friend of Christ.

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