Our conversation is in heaven. Phil. 3.20. St. Leo the Great [Sermon 74] addressed a Christian congregation fifteen centuries ago, celebrating the festival of Our Lord’s Ascension with these words:
Last Sunday’s lessons emphasized the tension between the Risen Christian and the world in which he is a “stranger and pilgrim.” Today we learn that unworldliness is not an unreasoning opposition, but a necessity for those who belong to a “Kingdom not of this world.” We are the world’s nonconformists because we are God’s conformists, and because to love the world as it is opposed to God and His Truth is to hate the Father. The Sunday of nonconformity is therefore followed by a Sunday of conformity.
“DEARLY beloved: I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles”
Today we see how St. John presents this first appearance of the Risen Lord to His disciples on the evening of that first day of the week – the day of the Resurrection – the new 8th day – the day of the new creation in which something truly phenomenal has occurred.
One of the ancient hymns for the Holy Saturday has the words:
To earth the Master came down to save Adam,
and not finding him on earth,
He descended into the realm of the dead seeking him there.
Adam was afraid when God walked in Paradise.
But now he rejoices when God descends into Hades.
Then he fell, but now he is raised up.
In the Durham Cathedral in northern England, in the fourteenth century, a ritual known as the Judas Cup ceremony was instituted as part of the Maundy Thursday liturgy. It offers a stark and compelling image of the theme of betrayal. Following Holy Communion, a large cup of water was placed before the monks.
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.
That is what our life in Jesus Christ is all about, finally: to acquire His mind the mind of the Son of God, the Incarnate Lord, the crucified and risen conqueror of death, the anointed King, the Word and Wisdom of God Almighty.
On Passion Sunday, we enter the final two weeks of Lent, which the Church has named “Passiontide,” or “The Season of the Passion.” During these two weeks, the Churchs ancient Lenten course reaches its climax as we contemplate our Lord Jesus Christs death for us on the Cross. As much as it is humanly possible, and with the supernatural help of Gods grace, we are meant to let nothing in this world divert our attention from our Saviors Passion and death as we prepare to celebrate His Resurrection.
And He said this to prove him, for He Himself knew what He would do. John 6
I suspect that most people would likely consider St. Antony to be a little crazy selling all that he had, giving it to the poor, and deciding to live by himself in the Egyptian desert, struggling there to find out what it took to live out the teachings of the Gospel in thought, word, and deed. But in fact, St. Antony had decided that righteousness was an end worth pursuing in itself.