March 23, 2008 Year A
Reflection on the Readings
By Dennis Hankins
Theme: The First Day of the Week
Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.
It was a busy morning preparing to attend to my duties as pastor of a United Methodist Church Circuit of three parishes. I was not yet ready to go out the door and the parsonage phone rang. It was Easter morning. "He is RISEN!" as the voice of Naomi Phillips rang out with victory.
Ever since that first Easter Sunday, the first day of the week has been known as the Lord's Day. It is the day of the week that brings order and purpose to the rest of the week. We are to remember that every day is a day in which we honor our Lord. But the first day of the week is the day, which commemorates the resurrection of the Lord. He who reigns in heaven and in us does so from the power of an indestructible life1.
And on Sunday is when from the altar before us is given to us that life and nourishment for our life in the Spirit. No mere symbol will suffice. The new creation, which we are in the Son of the Father's love, is a supernatural life. Only the body and blood of Jesus will sustain and enlarge our life in the fellowship of the Most Holy Trinity. So the victory of the crucifixion is inextricably related to the triumph of the resurrection and the Kingdom that is yet to come. In the Sacrifice of the Mass do we give witness to Christ crucified, Christ raised, and Christ as coming again.
Ours is a life in the Spirit because it is the work of the Holy Spirit that inaugurates in us the life of Jesus. Jesus' life in the flesh began in Mary by the Holy Spirit. And if the Spirit, who initiated the incarnation, mediated the crucifixion and instigated the resurrection dwell in us, then is our life in Jesus in, by and through the same Spirit.
And the first day of the week is the day in which the Spirit of truth renews in us the life of Jesus. It is the Spirit who teaches us all things, that is, all things pertaining to our redemption. It was Christ who on the cross, offered himself without blemish to God through the eternal Spirit2. Through the same eternal Spirit do we offer our worship and submit our supplications in the only name by which we can be saved3.
Ours is a spiritual worship because it is by the invocation of the Spirit upon the gifts we bring to the altar that return to us as food for the journey, the very body and blood of our crucified and risen Savior. In the Book of Revelation we read that the beloved disciple John was in the Spirit on the Lord's Day4. And in that revelatory Spirit did John see the power of worship in Spirit and in Truth. It is the same worship we enter into when to the exhortation of 'Lift up your hearts to the Lord' we respond 'We lift them up to the Lord.' And the first day of the week happens all over again!
Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is Risen Indeed!
Let us pray: Dear Jesus, may my constant affection be of your indestructible life. In your life is fullness of joy; may I be a true and faithful witness of the same. And if my life is hidden in you, may it please my Lord some day to change my vile body into a glorious body like unto your own glorious body. Amen