Saturday, April 16, 2022

Holy Saturday: “After three days I will rise again.”

On Psalm lxiii, 7

We shall attain to thoughts that are very deep: but God shall still be exalted. The enemies of our Lord had communed of laying snares privily; they had said, Who shall see them? They had searched out iniquities; they had accomplished a diligent search. And Man attained even unto (the realization of) their counsels, for the Lord, as Man, suffered Himself to be taken. For He had not been taken at all, unless He had been a Man, or seen, unless He had been a Man, or smitten, unless He had been a Man, or crucified, unless He had been a Man, or have died, unless He had been a Man. Man therefore, He attained unto all those sufferings, which had had nothing in Him, unless He had been a Man. But if He had not been Man, man had not been redeemed. And the Lord as Man attained to thoughts that were very deep, yea, secret; showing the Manhood to the eyes of men, and keeping the Godhead within Him; veiling the form of God, as touching Which, He is Equal to the Father, and manifesting the form of a servant, as touching which, He is inferior to the Father.

How far did the accomplishment of their diligent search reach? Even to the setting a watch of soldiers at the sepulchre, to guard the Lord, even after He was dead and buried. For they said unto Pilate: Sir, we remember that that deceiver Matth. xxvii. 63. This was the term by which they designated the Lord Jesus Christ, and the remembrance that He was so named is a sweet consolation to us His servants, when we are called impostors. So they said unto Pilate, that deceiver said, while He was yet alive: After three days I will rise again. Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest His disciples come and steal Him away, and say unto the people: He is risen again from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first. Pilate said unto them: Ye have a watch; go your way; make it as sure as ye can. So they went and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch.

So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch and anon, behold, there was a great earthquake, and the Lord arose. So great wonders were wrought about the sepulchre that the very soldiers, which were put to guard it, were witnesses thereto, if only they would have told the truth. But the same love of money which had made a slave of that disciple who was a companion of Christ, made slaves also of the soldiers that were put to watch His sepulchre. Some of the watch came into the city, and showed unto the chief-priests all the things that were done: and when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers, saying: Say ye, His disciples came by night and stole Him away while we slept. In good sooth, their diligent search had been accomplished and ended before this. What didst thou say, O stupid cunning? Wast thou indeed so utterly void of the light of godly wisdom, and confounded in the bottomless pit of thine own falsehood as to tell them to say: His disciples came by night, and stole Him away while we slept? Part of the testimony of thine eye-witnesses was that they were asleep at the time: thou thyself wast asleep not to be able to see that on their own testimony, their testimony must have been worthless.

From the Treatise of St. Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, Upon the Psalms

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