34 - HE GOES BEFORE YOU INTO GALILEE, May 8, 2022 (3rd Sunday of Pascha)

Acts 6.1-7

Mark 15.43-16.8

‘Tell His disciples that He goes before you into Galilee; there you will see Him.’ What theology might be hiding in this word of the angel to the Myrrhbearers?

Here may be a clue: Joseph of Arimathea ‘placed’ the LORD’s body into a tomb hewn from the rock. But what is a tomb hewn from the rock if not a form of the dust of the ground? After fashioning man from the dust of the ground and breathing into him the ‘breath of life’ from within the mystery of His Sabbath Rest (Gen 2.1-7), it says, God ‘placed’ him in the Garden that He had planted to the East. Just before the LORD expelled Adam and Eve from the Garden because they refused to repent, the LORD said to them: ‘You are from the dust; to the dust you shall return.’ Does the LORD’s WORD mean, I shall return you to the dust from which I fashioned you like a potter fashions the clay, to refashion you from the dust of my Body, and to place you, again, in the Garden to the East, in the Resurrection from the dead as a new creation? If so, then the Tomb of the LORD’s Sabbath Rest—or rather, His life-creating Corpse—is the dust to which the LORD is returning Adam, and His Tomb is the Gate that opens onto Galilee, but Galilee now transfigured into the Path that goes into Eden and up to the top of the Edenic mountain and into the Kingdom of Heaven in the deep beyond all things. So, what is the mystery of Galilee!

As spiritual spelunkers let’s descend into this luminous mystery by noting first that this movement of the risen LORD Jesus from the Tomb that was opened when the angel descended and rolled away the stone and into Galilee by way of hell is the mirror image of the LORD rising from the Jordan at His baptism, when the heavens were opened and He was led by the Spirit into Galilee by way of the wilderness.

And let us also note that this movement of the LORD Jesus into Galilee first from the Jordan, then from His Tomb, is exactly the movement of that ‘snow-melt’ river Ezekiel saw coming down from above and into the Temple of the Last Day that was at the top of the mountain. It is the Church who teaches us that this Temple Ezekiel saw is the prophetic image of the Virgin Theotokos, and the snow-melt River as the prophetic image of the Virgin’s Son. From out of the east gate of that Temple, from the womb of the Virgin, Ezekiel saw this snow-melt River, the LORD Jesus Christ, go forth and become a mighty river that flowed all the way into Galilee to the East [Ez 47.8 LXX] and into the Sea (the image of the dark waters of death?), healing all the waters and every living creature it touched. (Eze 47.1-10; except for the miry places that were not healed but were given over to salt—those who, like Lot’s wife, turned away from the command of God and looked back to their life in sin and death?)

Finally on this point, let us note that both the Jordan and the LORD’s Tomb are the mystery of the Church’s baptismal font. When the believer is submerged in the waters of the Font, he is ‘buried with Christ into His death.’ The old man of sin enslaved to death is crucified with Christ; the body of sin is destroyed, and the believer is no longer a slave of sin. And if, says St Paul, we have died with Christ in the baptismal Font—if we have been united to Christ in the likeness of His death—we are now dead to sin and alive in Christ Jesus in His Holy Resurrection. (Rm 6.4-11) We have been turned to face the East!

Now, after you were raised from the Font, you received the body and blood of the risen Christ as your food and drink. You were made to become ‘bone of His bones; flesh of His flesh,’ so that it is no longer you who live but Christ who is living in you. Where, then, did you go from there, with Christ in you? Did you not go back into your everyday life? Can you see that your ‘everyday life’ is ‘Galilee’? And, ‘the LORD goes before you into Galilee.’ ‘The LORD goes before you, and He goes with you, into your everyday life because Christ, the mystery of God, is in you!’ (Col. 1.27)

The LORD Christ goes before you into your everyday life by way of His Tomb, by way of the Baptismal Font. In the Font, you were caught up in the Living Waters of that mighty snow-melt River that flowed from the Living Temple of the Holy Virgin on the Edenic Mountain and out into Galilee to the East, all the way out into the Sea, all the way out into the LORD’s Resurrection from the dead in which He has destroyed your death and given life to you who before were in the tombs, dead in your sins and trespasses. From the Font, you returned to your everyday life with the LORD who returns to Galilee, who returns with you into your everyday life, from His Tomb. He returns with you into the tomb of your everyday life—for we are still bounded in this life by sin and death—risen from the dead in His Resurrection. And so, you return to your everyday life, you who are still clothed in mortality and corruption, you return carrying in your mortal body the Life of Christ’s Holy Resurrection! And with Christ in you, your everyday life is transfigured into a Garden of Life oriented to the East, and all the afflictions and sufferings and trials of this life become your participation in the sufferings of Christ. These are the means by which you live out your Baptism, your union with Christ in the likeness of His death (likeness means participation in the bible) so that, by remaining obedient to Christ even in your sufferings, you walk, you live in that newness of Life that was sown in you in the Font, and the Life of Christ begins to manifest itself in your mortal bodies (2 Cor 4.10).

And this, I believe, is how we will ‘see’ Him in Galilee, in our everyday life. We will see Him because, by participating with Him in the likeness of His death, we come to ‘know’ Him directly, immediately; for we experience the divine Truth of the LORD’s Resurrection that is in us: that our death is being swallowed up by His death and even in the tomb of this life, we experience ourselves living in the Garden of Eden that is to the East, in the Kingdom of Heaven that is within us.

We will see Him in the unapproachable light of His Holy Resurrection, the Church says to us, if we purify our senses. We purify our senses when we choose to serve sin no more, when we choose to obey the desires of sin no more; when, instead, we choose to present ourselves to God in this new life of Christ’s Resurrection that now flows in us like that snow-melt river of Ezekiel’s vision, and to present the members of our body, our mind, our soul to God as instruments of righteousness and no more to sin as instruments of unrighteousness and death.

The angel says to the myrrhbearers: ‘Why do you seek the living among the dead?’ Might he mean: Why do you look for life in the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, the pride of life? All this is of the world, and the world is passing away! Therefore, follow Him into Galilee! Follow Him into your everyday life, follow Him into the world that is passing away. But look for Him not in the desires of the flesh but in the Light of His Holy Resurrection that has ‘dawned’ in the world that is passing away with the Light of His Holy Resurrection, destroying by His death the death of those who receive Him, and giving life to those sitting in the region and shadow of death. He goes before you into your everyday life in this world to heal your spiritual blindness, your spiritual deafness, your spiritual paralysis, your spiritual ignorance, your spiritual death! He goes before you in His Resurrection, leading you through the Galilee of your everyday life to your grave, that has now been transfigured by your union with Christ in Holy Baptism, into the Gate of Heaven. Our everyday life is now the Path by which we follow the Bridegroom from His Tomb as from the Bridal Chamber and into the Garden, into the Kingdom of Heaven, into Life Eternal! Amen!