“Christ in Our Corner, “By Brian Flanagan, Fiat Ventures

Flickr User Trepan

Easter Sunday

Happy Easter! He is risen! Maybe you’re arriving at Easter Sunday after a LONG Lenten journey and you’re already on your 3rd cup of coffee today after having given it up, or perhaps you’re adding another Reese’s peanut butter cup wrapper to your collection next to you on the table. It is a FEAST after all.

There are some wonderful readings this Sunday, but I’d like to focus on a lesser known part of the Easter Sunday Mass – it’s called the Easter Sequence, and it is sung or read right after the 2nd Reading, and before the Gospel Acclamation where we finally get to sing ALLELUIA again after a long Lent. Only a few feasts have a Sequence, and this one dates back nearly 1,000 years (which by the way is nothing compared to a lot of the Mass dating back 2,000 years!). Here are a few lines from it:

“Christians, to the Paschal Victim / Offer your thankful praises! / A Lamb the sheep redeems; / Christ, who only is sinless, / Reconciles sinners to the Father. / Death and life have contended in that combat stupendous: / The Prince of life, who died, reigns immortal.” WOW! To think we usually reduce Easter to egg hunts and marshmallow Peeps!

One of my Lenten practices this year was to exercise every day (which I normally hate doing but wanted to grow in discipline). Instead of going running, I thought I’d try something new, boxing gloves and a big old punching bag in my basement. It’s admittedly one of the most ‘fun’ Lents I’ve had, actually. So when I read that line about “combat stupendous” from the Sequence this year, I pictured “In the blue corner, weighing in at 175, God from God, Light from Light, Jeeeesssssuuuusss of Nazzzzzzzaaaaareeeeeeth. And in the red corner, weighing in at 320, that Sneaky Serpent, that Devil in the Details, Luuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuciferrrrr.”

Except this fight was over before it began, in more ways than one. To all the onlookers on Good Friday, it seemed that Jesus didn’t have a chance. He was apparently down for the count. Death had won. But in the greatest paradoxical come from behind victory of all time, it was precisely Jesus’ death on the Cross by which he won this “combat stupendous”. Death was tricked into destroying itself. And on Easter Sunday, that victory was made known. Heaven knew in an instant, but here on earth it was a more slow and exciting realization as Jesus began appearing in his Resurrected body. A glimmer of hope, as the disciples saw the empty tomb, began to grow and swell until even Thomas the following week got to see for himself that Jesus is risen.

For us, it’s more like watching a video of an old boxing match online; we already know the result. Jesus has already become the “victor King” we sing about in the Sequence, and we live in the confidence of that victory today. When we’re up against sin, temptation, despair, or anything that threatens to hold us back from God, we know that Jesus is already victorious.

So, as we continue this Easter Season, let’s live in that victory. Sin and death have no more power over us since we have Risen Christ in our corner. And this victory isn’t just something we read about or hear about; we participate in it when we receive Communion. We receive the Risen Christ; Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. The Devil hears the sound of his defeat again and again throughout the centuries, not a bell at the end of a round of boxing, but the bell rung at the Consecration, when the priest elevates the Eucharist. Talk about a ringing in your ears!

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