"I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else."
C. S. Lewis

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Death Itself Cast Into Affliction

Lazarus appeared, resembling an impromptu trophy over death. He appeared without having left to Hades any of the burial wrappings. For, bound, he came forth. His feet did not bear him, rather, grace provided him with wings. Lazarus appeared, having left Hades behind mourning. As he put an end to the grief of brothers, he cast death into affliction.

Seeing his kingdom destroyed and unable to prevent this, death lamented, crying, "What is this change in my affairs, what is this miraculous alliance of nature? The dead are returning to life, and the tombs have become wombs of the living. Alas, for these misfortunes! Even the tombs are faithless to me with regard to the dead, and the dead, although putrefying, are leaping out. They are all dancing in their swathing bands, mocking my laugh. Still mourned, they are going up toward those that mourn them. By showing themselves, they undo the tragedy, leaving me an heir to grief. Who is it who teaches the dead to challenge death? Who is it who is enlisting the deceased against death? Who is the One whose voice the prisons underground cannot support? Who is the One before whom the tombs tremble? He merely speaks, and I am not able to hold on to those whom I have in my power. Oh, in vain was I entrusted with a kingdom! Oh, in vain was I confident in an angry God! 

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Basil of Seleucia, Homily on Lazarus 11-12. Translated by Mary B. Cunningham, from Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, New Testament, vol. IVb, John 11-21, InterVarsity Press.

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