Father David Anderson is pastor of Saint Peters Eastern Catholic Church in Ukiah, California. This homily was given May 2016.
“Magnify, O my soul, the one God in three Persons,” St. Gregory the Theologian said, while speaking on the day of Pentecost, words which have been set to song by the Church to the services of this day by the great hymnographers, especially St. John of Damascus: “We celebrate the day of Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit, the appointed day for the promise, the fulfillment of our hope, a breathing which is the breath of God, a present share in the tongues of fire.”
A breathing, which is the breath of God, and a present share in the tongues of fire – that is the fulfillment of our hope, which has been given to us in the coming of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost.
For 33 years now, as I have preached on Pentecost, at some point I say the last verse of the Matins canon: All of us, upon whom the grace of God has blown, have become radiant as lightning, transformed with an alteration strange and beautiful.
What is this alteration strange and beautiful, which is the fulfillment of our hope, and the present share in the inheritance God gives to his own? To know what it is, not only with the mind but with the entire being, we must begin from the world that we observe and the life that we live in it–and that is, everything happens as a result of causes and effects, actions and reactions.
We observe this constantly. We observe it so much that perhaps we don’t even think of it, even though it surrounds us constantly: causes and effects. The reason why the world operates and life seems to operate by causes and effects is that everything is a faint reflection of how God is, how God works.
In this Paschal time, we have celebrated and partaken of what could be called the two great causes and effects of our God. First, the cause of the voluntary death of the Son of God made flesh. He, who is utterly in His personhood outside creation, entered that creation and gave His life for that creation voluntarily, as an act of His will. This is a cause.
And it produces an effect, an effect in the very heart of things, so much beyond and so much deeper even than all the causes and effects that scientists can observe in the universe. The effect caused by the voluntary death of the Lord Jesus Christ is His Resurrection. His death causes it, because it is a singular death of a singular person, who uniquely and voluntarily enters into death with our humanity and thus unravels it.
We hear of that unraveling in the accounts of the Lord’s death in the Gospels; even the cosmos bears witness to it, and we could say, some of the dead prematurely come forth because at the very depths of existence, death is despoiled of its power. And so, we proclaim that not one dead remains in the tombs, because Christ is risen. His death causes His Resurrection. By His Cross, joy has come into the world. (to be continued)