The Divine power of the Resurrection
The following is an extract from Pope St Gregory the Great’s Sermon on the Lord’s Resurrection: The whole of the Easter mystery, dearly beloved, has been brought before us in the Gospel narrative, and the ears of the mind have been so reached through the ear of flesh that none of you can fail to have a picture of the events: for the text of the Divinely inspired story has clearly shown the treachery of the Lord Jesus Christ’s betrayal, the judgment by which He was condemned, the barbarity of His crucifixion, and glory of His Resurrection. But a sermon is still required of us, that the priests’ exhortation may be added to the solemn reading of Holy Writ, as I am sure you are with pious expectation demanding of us as your accustomed due. Because therefore there is no place for ignorance in faithful ears, the seed of the Word, which consists of the preaching of the Gospel, ought to grow in the soil of your heart, so that, when choking thorns and thistles have been removed, the plants of holy thoughts and the buds of right desires may spring up freely into fruit. For the cross of Christ, which was set up for the salvation of mortals, is both a mystery and an example: a sacrament whereby the Divine power takes effect, an example whereby man’s devotion is excited: for to those who are rescued from the prisoner’s yoke Redemption further procures the power of following the way of the cross by imitation. For if the world’s wisdom so prides itself in its error that every one follows the opinions and habits and whole manner of life of him whom he has chosen as his leader, how shall we share in the name of Christ save by being inseparably united to Him, Who is, as He Himself asserted, “the Way, the Truth, and the Life”? – the Way, that is, of holy living, the Truth of Divine doctrine, and the Life of eternal happiness.
For when the whole body of mankind had fallen in our first parents, the merciful God purposed so to succour, through His only-begotten Jesus Christ, His creatures made after His image, that the restoration of our nature should not be effected apart from it, and that our new estate should be an advance upon our original position. Happy, if we had not fallen from that which God made us; but happier, if we remain that which He has re-made us. It was much to have received form from Christ; it is more to have a substance in Christ. For we were taken up into its own proper self by that Nature, which condescended to those limitations which loving-kindness dictated and which yet incurred no sort of change. We were taken up by that Nature, which destroyed not what was His in what was ours, nor what was ours in what was His; which made the person of the Godhead and of the Manhood so one in Itself that by co-ordination of weakness and power, the flesh could not be rendered inviolable through the Godhead, nor the Godhead passible through the flesh. We were taken up by that Nature, which did not break off the Branch from the common stock of our race, and yet excluded all taint of the sin which has passed upon all men. That is to say, weakness and mortality, which were not sin, but the penalty of sin, were undergone by the Redeemer of the World in the way of punishment, that they might be reckoned as the price of redemption... And so, dearly beloved, if we unhesitatingly believe with the heart what we profess with the mouth, in Christ we are crucified, we are dead, we are buried; on the very third day, too, we are raised. Hence the Apostle says: “If ye have risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting on God’s right hand: set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. For when Christ, your life, shall have appeared, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory.” But that the hearts of the faithful may know that they have that whereby to spurn the lusts of the world and be lifted to the wisdom that is above, the Lord promises us His presence, saying: “Lo! I am with you all the days, even till the end of the age.”
The cross of Christ, which was set up for the salvation of mortals, is both a mystery and an example: a sacrament whereby the Divine power takes effect