Second Sunday After Easter – Good Shepherd Sunday
|℣. In resurrectione tua, Christe, alleluia.||℣. In thy resurrection, O Christ, alleluia.|
|℟. Cœli et terra lætentur, alleluia.||℟. Let heaven and earth rejoice, alleluia.|
This Sunday goes under the name of the Good Shepherd Sunday, because in the Mass, there is read the Gospel of St. John, wherein our Lord calls himself by this name. How very appropriate is this passage of the Gospel to this present Season, when our Divine Master began his work of establishing and consolidating the Church, by giving it the Pastor, or Shepherd, who was to govern it to the end of time!
In accordance with the eternal decree, the ManGod, on the fortieth day after his Resurrection, is to withdraw his visible presence from the world. He is not to be again seen upon the earth till the Last Day, when he will come again to judge the living and the dead. And yet, he could never abandon mankind, for which he offered himself on the Cross, and which he delivered from death and hell by rising triumphantly from the Grave. He will continue to be its Head after his Ascension into heaven : but what shall we have, on earth, to supply his place ? We shall have the Church. It is to the Church that he will leave all his own authority to rule us; it is into the hands of the Church that he will intrust all the truths he has taught ; it is the Church that he will make the dispenser of all those means of salvation, which he has destined for the world.
This Church is a society, unto which all mankind s invited. It is composed of two classes of Members ; the governing and the governed ; the teaching and the taught ; the sanctifying and the sanctified. This Society is the Spouse of Christ ; it is by her that he produces his elect. She is the one only Mother of the elect ; out of her bosom, there is no salvation.
But how is this society to subsist ? how is it to persevere through the long ages of time, even to the Last Day ? who is to give it unity and adhesion of its parts ? what is to be the visible link between its members, – the palpable sign of its being the true Spouse of Christ, in the event of other societies rising up and disputing her titles ? If Jesus himself could have remained with us, we should have had nothing to fear, for where he is, there also are truth and life ; but, as he says, he is going, and we may not as yet follow him. Give ear, then, and learn what is the primary quality of the true Spouse of Christ.
Jesus was one day, previous to his Passion, in the country of Cesarea Philippi; his Apostles were standing around him, and he began questioning them about what they thought of him. One of them, Simon the son of John or Jonas, and brother to Andrew, answered in the name of all, and said: Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God! Jesus expressed his pleasure at receiving Simon’s testimony, which was not the result of any human knowledge, but the expression of a divine revelation there and then granted to him; and he immediately told this Apostle that from that time forward he was to be not Simon, but Peter (which means a Rock). Christ had been spoken of by the Prophets under the name of a Rock, or Stone; by thus solemnly conferring upon his Disciple a title so characteristically that of the Messias, Jesus would give us to understand that Simon was to have a something in common with himself, which the other Apostles were not to have. After saying to him: Thou art Peter (that is, thou art the Rock)—he added: And upon this Rock I will build my Church.
Let us weigh the force of these words of the Son of God: I will build my Church. He has, then, a project in view—he intends to build a Church. It is not now that he will build it, but at some future period; but one thing we already know as a certainty—it is that this Church will be built on Peter. Peter will be its foundation; and whosoever is not on that foundation will not belong to the Church. Let us again give ear to the Text: And the gates of hell shall not prevail against my Church. In scriptural language, gates signify the powers: the Church of Christ, therefore, it to be proof against all the efforts of hell. And why? Because the foundation, which Jesus is to give to it, shall be one that no power can shake. The Son of God continues: And I will give to thee the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. In the language of the Jews, keys signify the power of governing; and in the Gospel Parables, the Kingdom of Heaven is the Church built by Christ. By saying to Peter (which is henceforth to be Simon’s name), I will give to thee the keys of the Kingdom of heaven, Jesus implied this: “I will make thee the King of my Church, of which thou art to be the Foundation!” Nothing could be clearer. But let us remember that all these magnificent promises regard the future.
That future has now become the present. We are now come to the last days of Jesus’ visible presence here below. The time is come for him to make good his promise and found the Kingdom of God—that Church which he was to build upon the earth. The Apostles, in obedience to the order sent them by the Angels, are come into Galilee. Our Lord appears to them on the shore of the lake of Tiberias: after providing them with a mysterious repast, and while they are all attentive to his words, he suddenly addresses himself to Peter: Simon, son of John, lovest thou me? Observe, he does not call him Peter; he, as it were, goes back to the day when he said to him: Simon, son of Jonas, thou art Peter; he would have his Disciples note the connection between the promise and its actual fulfillment. Peter, with his usual eagerness, answers his Master’s question: Yea, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus resumes, with a tone of authority: Feed my Lambs! Then, repeating the question, he asks: Simon, son of John, lovest thou me? Peter is surprised at his Master’s urging such an inquiry; still, he answers with the same simplicity as before: Yea, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee: and as soon as he had given answer, Jesus repeats the words of investiture: Feed my lambs!
The Disciples respectfully listen to this dialogue; they see plainly that, here again, Peter is made an object of Jesus’ partiality, and is receiving a something which they themselves are not to receive. They remember what happened at Cesarea Philippi, and how, ever since that day, peter has been treated by their Master with especial honor. And yet, there is another privilege or office to be added to this of feeding the Lambs. A third time, then, Jesus says to Peter: Simon, son of John, lovest thou me? This is too much for the apostle. These three questionings of his love bring to his mind the three denials he had so sinfully made to the servant girl of Caiphas. He feels the allusion to his recent infidelity; and this third time, his answer implies a prayer for forgiveness; his reply bespeaks humility rather than assurance: Lord! says he, thou knowest all things! Thou knowest that I love thee! Then, making Peter’s authority complete, Jesus pronounces these imposing words: Feed my Sheep!
Here, then, we have Peter made Shepherd by Him who says of himself: I am the good Shepherd. Firstly, our Lord gives his apostle, and twice over, the care of his Lambs;—this does not make him the complete Shepherd: but when he bids him feed his Sheep too, the whole Flock is subjected to his authority. Now, therefore, let the Church show herself, let her take her stand, let her spread herself through the length and breadth of the nations: Simon, the son of John, is proclaimed its visible Head. Is the Church a Building? he is the Foundation-Stone, the Petra, the Rock. Is she a Kingdom? he holds the Keys, that is, the scepter. Is she a Fold? he is the Shepherd.
Yes, this Church—which Jesus is now organizing, and is to be proclaimed to the world on the day of Pentecost—is to be a Fold. The Word, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, is come down from heaven, that he may gather together in one the children of God, that were dispersed; and the time is at hand when there shall be but one Fold and one Shepherd. O Jesus! our Divine Shepherd! we bless thee, we give thee thanks. It is by thee that the Church thou art now founding, subsists and lives through every age, congregating and saving all that put themselves under her guidance. Her authority, her strength, her unity, all come from thee, her infinitely powerful and merciful Shepherd! We likewise bless and thank thee for that thou hast secured this authority, this strength, this unity, by giving us Peter as thy Vicar, Peter our Shepherd in and by Thee, Peter to whom all, both Sheep and Lambs, owe obedience, Peter in whom thou, our Divine Head, will be forever visible, even to the end of the world!
In the Greek Church, the second Sunday after Easter, which we call Good Shepherd Sunday, goes under the appellation of the Sunday of the holy Myrophorce, that is Perfume- Bearers. The Office celebrates the devotion of the Holy Women who brought their perfumes to the Sepulchre, that they might embalm the Body of Christ. Joseph of Arimathea is also commemorated in the Greek Liturgy of this week.
The Roman Church reads the Acts of the Apostles, in her Matins, from last Monday to the third Sunday after Easter exclusively.
The Introit takes a tone of triumph. It celebrates in the words of the Royal Psalmist, the mercy of the Lord, which, by the foundation of the Church, has filled the whole earth. The Heavens, (by which, in the mysterious language of the Scripture, is frequently meant the Apostles,) were firmly established by the Word of the Lord, when Jesus, (the Word,) gave them Peter as their Shepherd and their Rock.
|Miscericordia Domini plena est terra, alleluia: Verbo Domini cœli firmati sunt. Alleluia, alleluia.||The earth is full of the mercy of the Lord, alleluia: by the Word of the Lord, the Heavens were firmly established. Alleluia, alleluia.|
|Ps. Exsultate justi in Domini: rectos decet collaudatio. ℣. Gloria Patri. Misericordia.||Ps. Rejoice in the Lord, O ye just! Praise becometh the upright. ℣. Glory, &c. The earth, &c.|
In the Collect, the Church asks the grace of holy joy for her children: it is the spirit of Eastertide. Surely, it is a duty to rejoice at our having been saved from death by our Jesus’ Resurrection! Moreover, these Paschal joys are a preparation for those of eternity.
|Deus, qui in Filii tui humilitate jacentem mundum erexisti: fidelibus tuis perpetuam concede lætitiam; ut quos perpetuæ mortis eripuisti casibus, gaudiis facias perfrui sempiternis. Per eumdem Dominum.||O God, who, by the humiliation of thy Son, hast raised up the fallen world: grant to thy people perpetual joy: that they whom thou hast delivered from the danger of everlasting death, may arrive at eternal joys. Through the same, &c.|
To this are added two of the following Collects:
|of the Blessed Virgin|
|Concede nos famulos tuos, quæsumus, Domine Deus, perpetua mentis et corporis sanitate gaudere: et gloriosa beatæ Mariæ semper Virginis intercessione, a præsenti liberari tristitia et æterna perfrui lætitia.||Grant, O Lord, we beseech thee, that we thy servants may enjoy constant health of body and mind; and by the glorious intercession of Blessed Mary, ever a Virgin, be delivered from all present sorrow, and come to that joy which is eternal.|
|Against the Persecutors of the Church|
|Ecclesiæ tuæ, quæsumus, Domine, preces placatus admitte: ut, destructis adversitatibus et erroribus universis, secura tibi serviat libertate. Per Dominum.||Mercifully hear, we beseech thee, O Lord, the prayers of thy Church: that, all oppositions and errors being removed, she may serve thee with a secure liberty. Through, &c.|
|For the Pope|
|Deus omnium fidelium Pastor et Rector, famulum tuum N. quem Pastorem Ecclesiæ tuæ præesse voluisti, propitius respice: da ei, quæsumus, verbo et exemplo, quibus præest, proficere; ut ad vitam, una cum grege sibi credito, perveniat sempiternam. Per Dominum.||O God, the Pastor and Ruler of all the faithful, look down, in thy mercy, on thy servant N., whom thou hast appointed Pastor over thy Church; and grant, we beseech thee, that both by word and example, he may edify all those that are under his charge; and, with the flock entrusted to him, arrive at length at eternal happiness. Through, &c.|
|Lectio Epistolæ beati Petri Apostoli.||Lesson of the Epistle of Saint Peter the Apostle.|
|I Cap. II.||I Ch. II.|
|Charissimi, Christus passus est pro nobis, vobis relinquens exemplum ut sequamini vestigia ejus: qui peccatum non fecit, nec inventus est dolus in ore ejus: qui cum malediceretur, non maledicebat: cum pateretur, non comminabatur: tradebat autem judicanti se injuste: qui peccata nostra ipse pertulit in corpore suo super lignum; ut peccatis mortui, justitiæ vivamus: cujus livore sanatis estis. Eratis enim sicut oves errantes, sed conversi estis nunc ad pastorem, et episcopum animarum vestrarum.||Dearly beloved: Christ also suffered for us, leaving you an example that you should follow his steps. Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth. Who, when he was reviled, did not revile: when he suffered, he threatened not: but delivered himself to him that judged him unjustly. Who his own self bore our sins in his body upon the tree: that we, being dead to sins, should live to justice: by whose stripes you were healed. For you were as sheep going astray; but you are now converted to the shepherd and bishop of your souls.|
It is the Prince of the Apostles, the visible Shepherd of the universal Church, who addresses these words to us. Observe how he ends by turning our thoughts to the invisible Shepherd, whose Vicar he is; and how carefully he avoids any allusion to himself. So, also, when assisting his Disciple Mark to write his Gospel, he would not allow him to relate the history of Christ’s having made him the Shepherd of the whole Flock; whereas, he insisted on his telling every circumstance of his thrice denying Jesus to be his Master. See, too, how feelingly the Apostle here speaks of his Savior—of the sufferings he endured, of his patience, of his devotedness for those poor straying sheep of whom he was to form his fold! These words will one day be verified in Peter himself. The hour will come when, like his Master, he will be fastened to a cross, and patiently endure every insult and cruelty. Jesus told him that it was to be so. After entrusting him with the care of the Sheep and Lambs, our Lord told him that when he should have grown old, he would stretch forth his hands upon a cross, and suffer violence from men. This is to happen not merely to Peter, but to a considerable number of his successors, who are one with himself, and whom future generations are to see continually persecuted, exiled, imprisoned, and put to death. Let us, also, follow Jesus’ steps by cheerfully suffering for justice’s sake: we owe it to Him who, from all eternity, being equal in glory to God the Father, deigned to come down to our earth, that he might be the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls.
The first Alleluia-Versicle commemorates the repast at Emmaus: in a few moments, we also shall know Jesus in the breaking of the Bread of Life.
The second proclaims, in Jesus’ own words, the dignity and qualities of a Shepherd, his love for his Sheep, and the eagerness wherewith his Sheep recognize him as their Master.
|Alleluia, alleluia.||Alleluia, alleluia.|
|℣. Cognoverunt discipuli Dominum Jesum in fractione panis.||℣. The Disciples knew the Lord Jesus in the breaking of bread.|
|Alleluia, alleluia.||Alleluia, alleluia.|
|℣. Ego sum Pastor bonus; et cognosco oves meas, et cognoscunt me meæ, alleluia.||℣. I am the good Shepherd, and I know my sheep, and my sheep know me, alleluia.|
|Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Joannem.||Sequel of the holy Gospel according to John.|
|Cap. X.||Ch. X.|
|Iin illo tempore: Dixit Jesus Pharisæis: Ego sum pastor bonus. Bonus pastor animam suam dat pro ovibus suis. Mercenarius autem, et qui non est pastor, cujus non sunt oves propriæ, videt lupum venientem, et dimittit oves, et fugit: et lupus rapit, et dispergit oves; mercenarius autem fugit, quia mercenarius est, et non pertinet ad eum de ovibus. Ego sum pastor bonus: et cognosco meas, et cognoscunt me meæ. Sicut novit me Pater, et ego agnosco Patrem: et animam meam pono pro ovibus meis. Et alias oves habeo, quæ non sunt ex hoc ovili: et illas oportet me adducere, et vocem meam audient, et fiet unum ovile et unus pastor.||At that time: Jesus said to the Pharisees: I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd giveth his life for his sheep. But the hireling, and he that is not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and flieth: and the wolf catcheth, and scattereth the sheep: And the hireling flieth, because he is a hireling: and he hath no care for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; and I know mine, and mine know me. As the Father knoweth me, and I know the Father: and I lay down my life for my sheep. And other sheep I have, that are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice, and there shall be one fold and one shepherd.|
Divine Shepherd of our souls! how great is thy love for thy Sheep! Thou givest even thy life to save them. The fury of wolves does not make thee flee from us; thou becomest their prey, that we may escape. Thou diedst in our stead, because thou wast our Shepherd. We are not surprised at thy requiring from Peter a greater love than thou requiredst from his Brother Apostles: thou willedst to make him their and our Shepherd. Peter answered thee, without hesitation, that he loved thee; and thou conferredst upon him thine own name, together with the reality of thy office, in order that he might supply thy place after thy departure from this world. Be thou blessed, O Divine Shepherd! for thy having thus provided for the necessities of thy Fold, which could not be One, were it to have many Shepherds without one supreme Shepherd. In obedience to thy command, we bow down before Peter, with love and submission; we respectfully kiss his sacred feet; for it is by him that we are united to thee; it is by him that we are thy Sheep. Preserve us, O Jesus, in the Fold of Peter, which is thine. Keep far from us the hireling, who usurps the place and rights of the Shepherd. He has intruded himself, or been intruded by violence, into the Fold, and would have us take him as the master; but he knows not the Sheep, and the Sheep do not know him. Led not by zeal, but by avarice and ambition, he flieth at the approach of danger. He that governs through worldly motives is not a man to lay down his life for others. The schismatic Pastor loves himself; he does not love thy Sheep; how could he give his life for them? Protect us, O Jesus, from this hireling! He would separate us from thee by separating us from Peter, whom thou hast appointed thy Vicar; and we are determined to recognize no other. Anathema to him who would command us in thy name, and yet not be sent by Peter! Such a Pastor could be but an impostor; he would not rest on the Foundation; he would not have the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven; to follow him would be our ruin. Grant, then, Good Shepherd, Jesus! that we may ever keep close to thee, and to Peter; that as he rests upon thee, we may rest upon him; and thus we may defy every tempest, for thou, dear Lord, hast said: A wise man built his house upon a Rock; and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and they beat upon that house, and it fell not; for it was founded on a rock.
The Offertory is an aspiration to God, taken from the Royal Prophet.
|Deus Deus meus, ad te de luce vigilo: et in nomine tuo levabo manus meas, alleluia.||O God, my God! to thee do I watch at break of day: and in thy name I will lift up my hands, alleluia.|
In the Secret, the Church prays that the divine energy of the Mystery about to be consummated on the Altar may produce within us the effect we long for—death to sin, and resurrection to grace.
|Benedictionem nobis, Domine, conferat salutarem sacra semper oblatio: ut quod agit mysterio, virtute perficiat. Per Dominum.||May this holy oblation, O Lord, draw down upon us thy saving blessing; and always produce in us the effect of what is represented in these sacred mysteries. Through, &c.|
To this the Priest adds two of the following Secrets.
|Of the Blessed Virgin|
|Tua, Domine, propitiatione et beatæ Mariæ semper Virginis intercessione, ad perpetuam atque præsentem hæc oblatio nobis proficiat prosperitatem et pacem.||By thine own mercy, O Lord, and the intercession of Blessed Mary, ever a Virgin, may this oblation procure us peace and happiness, both in this life, and in that which is to come.|
|Against the Persecutors of the Church|
|Protege nos, Domine, tuis mysteriis servientes: ut divinis rebus inhærentes, et corpore tibi famulemur et mente. Per Dominum.||Protect us, O Lord, while we assist at thy sacred mysteries: that, being employed in acts of religion, we may serve thee, both in body and mind. Through, &c.|
|For the Pope|
|Oblatis, quæsumus, Domine, placare muneribus: et famulum tuum N. quem Pastorem Ecclesiæ tuæ præesse voluisti, assidua protectione guberna. Per Dominum.||Be appeased, O Lord, with the offerings we have made: and cease not to protect thy servant N., whom thou hast been pleased to appoint Pastor over thy Church. Through, &c.|
The Communion-Anthem speaks to us of the beautiful Mystery of today—the Good Shepherd. Let us once more offer our homage to the Son of God, who deigns to assume this endearing character; and let us ever be his devoted Sheep.
|Ego sum Pastor bonus, alleluia: et cognosco oves meas, et cognoscunt me meæ. Alleluia, alleluia.||I am the good Shepherd, alleluia: and I know my sheep, and my sheep know me. Alleluia, alleluia.|
Jesus, the Good Shepherd, has given himself, in this divine banquet, to his Sheep: holy Church prays, in the Postcommunion, that we may ever be penetrated with sentiments of love for this august Sacrament; we ought to glory in it, as being the food that prepares us for immortality.
|Præsta nobis, quæsumus omnipotens Deus; ut vivificationis tuæ gratiam consequentes, in tuo semper munere gloriemur. Per Dominum.||Grant, we beseech thee, O Almighty God, that, receiving from thee the grace of a new life, we may ever glory in thy gift. Through, &c.|
To this the Priest adds two of the following Postcommunions.
|Of the Blessed Virgin|
|Sumptis, Domine, salutis nostræ subsidiis: da, quæsumus, beatæ Mariæ semper Virginis patrociniis nos ubique protegi, in cujus veneratione hæc tuæ obtulimus majestati.||Having received, O Lord, what is to advance our salvation; grant we may always be protected by the patronage of Blessed Mary, ever a Virgin, in whose honor we have offered this sacrifice to thy Majesty.|
|Against the Persecutors of the Church|
|Quæsumus, Domine Deus noster: ut quos divina tribuis participatione gaudere, humanis non sinas subjacere periculis. Per Dominum.||We beseech thee, O Lord our God, not to leave exposed to the dangers of human life, those whom thou hast permitted to partake of these divine mysteries. Through, &c.|
|For the Pope|
|Hæc nos, quæsumus Domine, divini sacramenti perceptio protegat: et famulum tuum N. quem Pastorem Ecclesiæ tuæ præesse voluisti, una cum commisso, sibi grege salvet semper et muniat. Per Dominum.||May the participation of this divine Sacrament protect us, we beseech thee, O Lord; and always procure safety and defense to thy servant N., whom thou hast appointed Pastor over thy Church, together with the flock committed to his charge. Through, &c.|
We will close the day with this beautiful Preface taken from the Mozarabic Missal. It commemorates the Resurrection.
(Feria vi. Paschæ)
|Dignum et justum est, sanctum et salutare est, nos te gloriosissime Pater Domini nostri Jesu Christi, inenarribilibus triumphis attollere, completisque erga nos promissorum suorum beneficiis, in quantum se mens parvulorum, te inspirante, repleri senserit, propensius conlaudare. Ut cui plus dimissum est amplius diligat, et potiora jam fœdera accumulet qui tanta necdum credenti donavit. Postquam igitur Verbum caro factum est et habitavit in nobis, fecitque prius cuncta quæ docuit, perfectum divinis operibus virum necessariæ nobis sibique voluntariæ tradidit passioni. Ut quemadmodum mundo huic prædicationis suæ claritate effulserat, ne errorum inretitus tenebris fluctuaret, ita etiam infernali carcere mancipatis sua resolvendis descensione succurreret. Neque regnum usque in finem sæculi dilataret. Et spolia quæ quondam prædo attraxerat fraudulentus, ad cœlos secum reveheret innocens crucifixus. Et liberaret virtute justitiæ quos humilitatis suæ redemerat passione. Emisso itaque spiritu, et paternis, ut scriptum est, manibus commendato, hospitium divinitatis immensæ quem virginea conceperant atque ediderant viscera, virgo interim sepultura suscepit. Sed mansit illic nihilominus incorruptus, quia non fuerat ex Adam nati seminis corruptione conceptus. Judæis quoque petentibus, custodes monumento deputantur a Præside, quorum testimonio et fides firmaretur credentium, et confunderetur impietas perfidorum. Quid enim illi obesse potuit humana custodia, cui et dum requiesceret cœleste vigilavit excubium, et cum resurgeret Deus inerat Verbum? Quod immaculatæ animæ inseparabiliter copulatum adiit, exterruit, subjecit, et domuit, et vinxit cunctas hujus aeris in lacu novissimo potestates. Illic mors hebetata contremuit, seseque peremtam acrius quam stimulaverat sensit. Quæque se humani generis dominam lætitabat, ancillam mox crucis affectam Christo triumphante lugebat. Fracta est confestim virtus sæva carnificum, et ad nihilum redacta est exhausta grassatio cruentorum. Inclinata est harum tenebrarum Christi humilitate superbia, et diabolica malitia divini Agni est simplicitate restincta. Amisit e manibus subito quod se crudelissimus hostis credebat perpetim possessurum, cernens humanum genus per hominem Deum paradiso, unde prævaricatione Adæ eliminatum fuerat, restitutum.||It is meet and just, holy and available to salvation, that, with loudest acclamations of triumph, we should extol thee, O ever-glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! and, now that he has fulfilled all his promises of mercy towards us, should praise thee with all the fervour which the human mind is capable of feeling, aided by thine inspiration. He to whom more has been forgiven should love more; and he who bestowed his gifts upon us when we did not as yet believe, increased the obligations we have to serve him. Therefore, after that the Word had been made Flesh, and had dwelt amongst us, and had practiced all that he had taught, he, the perfect Man, perfect by his divine works, gave himself to the Passion, necessary, indeed, for us, but, on his part, voluntary. He enlightened the world by the brightness of his preaching, lest, being a prey to darkness, it might be tossed to and fro. So, to, he descended into the prison of Limbo, that he might set its captives free; for he would not defer his kingdom to the end of the world: therefore, the victims, dragged down by the crafty enemy, were raised up to heaven by the innocent Crucified. He would set free, by the right of justice, those whom he redeemed by the humility of his Passion. He had given up the ghost, and, as it is written, commended it into his Father’s hands, a virgin-tomb received the divine guest that a virgin-womb had conceived and brought forth. Corruption came not nigh to him whilst lying in the grave, because he was conceived without contracting the corruption of Adam’s sin. The Jews obtained of Pilate that he would place guards at the Sepulchre, whose testimony was afterwards to confirm the faith of believers, and confound the impiety of the wicked. For what obstacle could human vigilance be to him, who, whilst he lay in the tomb, had angels keeping watch over him; and who, when he rose, rose because he was God, the Word? Yea, the Word, which had been inseparably united to the Soul, was there in the Body also: it terrified, it subjected, it tamed, it tied fast down in deepest hell, all the powers of this air. Then did Death tremble, for its sting was blunted; and its own death was sharper than any it had ever made others feel. It had boasted of being lord of mankind; but, when Christ triumphed, it had to wail itself a slave of the Cross. Straightway was broken the power of the cruel executioners, and the violent rioting of the bloodthirsty was brought to an end. The pride of the spirits of darkness was brought down by the humility of Christ, and the malice of the devil was crushed by the simplicity of the Lamb. The most cruel enemy saw fall from his hands what he thought was his eternal possession; he saw mankind restored, by the Man-God, to the Paradise, whence it had been banished by Adam’s sin.|
This text is taken from The Liturgical Year, authored by Dom Prosper Gueranger (1841-1875)