Saturday, April 3, 2010

Today hell groans and cries aloud

...On Holy Saturday morning, hell is again a subject in the hymnography, and this time is personified and speaks.
Today hell groans and cries aloud: "It had been better for me, had I not accepted Mary's Son, for He has come to me and destroyed my power; He has shattered the gates of brass, and as God He has raised up the souls that once I held."
Today hell groans and cries aloud: "My dominion has been swallowed up; the Shepherd has been crucified and he has raised Adam. I am deprived of those whom once I ruled; in my strength I devoured them, but now I have cast them forth. He who was crucified has emptied the tombs; the power of death has no more strength." Glory to Thy Cross, O Lord, and to the Resurrection.
This "hell"  is the "sheol" in the Old Testament, or "hades," the place of the dead, not the final hell of the last judgement.
Glory is given, in the last line, to both Cross and Resurrection, and one might add the smashing of the gates of death. There is a Gospel reference, also to the phrase above "emptied the tombs"--Matthew 27:52--"the tombs were opened and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised."
Sermons that simply assert vague notions about life after death, how the soul lives on in some fashion, and do not preach what the Scriptures teach, are not delivering to their hearers much more than beliefs in immortality you might find in various cultures at various times. The Gospel is earthshaking news, not philosophy about eternal values and hope and springtime. The Resurrection is the ending of a cosmic battle. Or just the beginning. Accept nothing less than that Good News. (read the whole thing here)

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