‘Today the Crucified tells us: “I am he that liveth and was dead and behold I am alive for ever more. And I hold the keys of death and of hell”. By the free will of his great love, he laid down his life for us, and now he takes it again for ever. It is not indeed as though that life is just a cancelling or reversing of the death. He lives because he died. He lives, not in spite of death but because of it; for the death is love’s extremest measure. For ever he bears the scars of wounds wherewith he was wounded in the house of his friends. Our great High Priest is touched with the feeling of our infirmities. As he was God from everlasting, so he is Man for evermore. But by his death he hath destroyed the power of death and drawn its sting; and by his rising again has restored us to everlasting life.
Life, not death, is now written as the end of human history. But is that all? Must we wait till the end to know that our salvation is made sure? Is he alone in his great deliverance and victory? Is he as one who has escaped by night from a besieged city and got away in safety, leaving his companions unhelped by his escape, most closely beset, maybe, since he has broken through and left them? Are all the gains here on earth as transitory and insecure as ever? Must we wait until we leave this world before we know anything of the power of his endless life?
No so. Because Christ is risen, sin and death can make no final claim to rule this world. Men may yield themselves to the great false gods of pride and greed and hate. They may seek to enthrone themselves above God and to despise his love and justice and mercy and trample the common life of his children beneath the tyranny of self-idolising power; but in very truth the kingdoms that they thus construct are transient and unsubstantial. They are under doom, for the God who rules the earth is the Father who raised up Jesus Christ from the dead - Jesus in whom love has gained the victory over all the powers of death and hell. There is a life here which cannot be touched by death and decay and in each of us there is that which escapes the doom of transiency and sin’s triumph. For consider the Church. Christ has pledged that it shall not fail or die. It is the Body of the risen Christ. Whether men attack it from without or betray it from within, the Church, in its inner life, its essential being, is the endless Life of Christ, perpetuated upon earth. It cannot die, whatever else passes and disappears; for it lives, not by the contrivance or the pathetic aspirations of men, but by the power of him who raised up Jesus Christ from the dead. For within, from the hidden treasury of our glorious Lord, there are dispensed the grace and truth which by his death and resurrection he has unlocked to be not only the reward of high heaven, but the power to enlighten, strengthen, cleanse, renew, and feed our poor human nature while still we are pilgrims to the City of God’.
from The Easter Message, broadcast on Easter Day, 1939, by Edward Keble Talbot CR, 1877-1949
(Superior of the Community of the Resurrection, Mirfield, 1922-1940)
Fr Lee Kenyon