This is the hour of the power of darkness. We stand now before the greatest tragedy of human history – not a tornado, a flood, or a fire, but the day that man took up arms to kill his Creator. It was an act of rebellion greater than the tower of Babel, the making of the molten calf, or the killing of the prophets. This tragedy is rivaled only by what, in just a week, we will hail as the “happy fault, the necessary sin of Adam that won for us so great a Redeemer.”
Here we have encapsulated the entirety of humanity’s rejection of God. If we think, and rightly so, that our own age has turned away from the Almighty, then we see only a reflection what already happened two thousand long years ago, when the Redeemer was fixed to a tree.
We behold a lifeless body, brutalized and tortured. But, my brothers and sisters, our eyes deceive us! The sacred liturgy tells us, “[God] placed the salvation of the human race on the wood of the Cross, so that, where death arose, life might again spring forth and the evil one, who conquered on a tree, might likewise on a tree be conquered.” Death came from the tree from which Adam and Eve plucked the fruit of disobedience. On the day of the first great tragedy of human history, when paradise was lost and damnation became man’s fate, the evil one conquered on a tree. But today he has fallen for the trap. The devil dances with delight, thinking himself to have won, but the prince of deception has himself been deceived.
Death entered the world by the tree of Adam, around which the serpent slithered in waiting to tempt our first human parents. But he who conquered on a tree has likewise, on this tree, now been conquered. The trap is sprung, the devil caught. He has overstepped his bounds, extending the penalty of death to the only one undeserving of the universal fate of man, and now all of us who ought to have shared his eternal fate are set free.
What now, but let us walk this road with our Lord. In this final week of Lent, in this Holy Week, devote every moment to reliving these precious moments of His life so that His story becomes your story. Today He enters Jerusalem in triumph; tomorrow Mary will anoint Him for his burial with a years’ wages worth of costly oil; Tuesday, He cleanse His Father’s house of the money changers; Wednesday, Judas will agree to betray Him; Thursday, He will gather His Apostles for the last supper, ordaining them as His priests and instituting the Holy Eucharist; Friday, He will be lead to Calvary and give His life for you; Saturday, we will wait with expectation outside His tomb.
Walk this road with Him, so that you too might enter into His glory.
The Rev. Royce V. Gregerson
Parish Church of St. John the Evangelist, Goshen
Dominica II Passionis seu in Palmis
14 April A.D. MMXIX