The Octave Day of Easter
Being the Sunday after Easter DayBy W. J. Hankey
from COMMON PRAYER, Volume Six: Parochial
Homilies for the Eucharist Based on the Lectionary of the Book of Common
Prayer, 1962, Canada. (p. 72-74)
St. Peter Publications
Inc. Charlottetown, PEI, Canada. Reprinted with permission of
We are encompassed, surrounded by the goodness of God, the goodness which
has overcome the world and assures us of victory. On his cross, Christ
conquered the power of sin. Pinned down, burdened, tortured by everything
the sin of man in the power of nature could do, Jesus triumphed.
He remained faithful to God in the most extreme distance from God.
In the depths of hell, he obediently finished the work the Father had given
him to do. Jesus showed and established decisively and finally, that
God is with us and for us everywhere and always:
And I have put my words in your mouth, and I have covered
thee in the shadow of mine hand, that I may plant the heavens and lay the
foundations of the earth,and say unto Zion, 'Thou art my people.'
We look back to Good Friday. We see there the day and power of evil.
The sacraments ceased. The fountain of life cried "I thirst" from
the cross. The bread given for the life of the world died.
Darkness covered the earth. Jesus summoned the powers of sin and
death, darkness and evil, to come forth and they imprisoned him as they
overwhelm and imprison us. But when the soldiers thrust the spear
into the side of Jesus, there flowed out water and blood. Water lies
at the root of all new life, by the water of baptism God begins to surround
us by his goodness. In the sacrament he washes and embraces us, declares
his good will toward us. He takes us as his own children and makes
us partakers in the resurrection of his own dear Son.
If I climb us into heaven, thou art there:
If I go down to hell thou art there also...
Even there also shall thy hand lead me,
and thy right hand shall hold me.
If I say, 'Surely the darness shall cover me,
and the light about me become night'
Yet even the darkness is no darkness
with thee: the darkness is as clear as the day:
the darkness and light to thee are both alike.
The rock from which we are hewn, the wounded side of Christ yields blood
and also another sacrament. The sacrament of the altar -- the bread
of eternal life and the cup of everlasting salvation. This food and
drink are more than comfort to us along the way, they represent to us the
end of our journey: the banquet and feast of the Lamb of God in the heavenly
mansions of his Father, the final rejoicing to which baptism is our invitation.
We are surrounded by the goodness of God, as our beginning and our end,
our alpha and omega. The supper in which Jesus was known in the breaking
of the bread belongs to the end of the journey, when Jesus and his companions
had reached the village at evening. The sacrament of the supper comes
from the side of Christ to represent our end and goal.
Whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world...and this is
the witness, that God hath given to us eternal life and this life, is in
his Son. (1 John 5:4, 11)
But the way needs a sacrament of its very own, a sacrament which is
neither the beginning before which there is only darkness, chaos, disorder
and bitterness, nor the end goal after which there is no striving nor danger
but only fulfillment and joy. We remember the first in our baptism,
we look forward to the last in the sacrament of the altar, but we need
something for our endless stumblings, confusions, frustrations and falls,
our straying, dirt and wounds along the way. And there is a sacrament
just for the way itself. For there are three that agree in one: the
water, the blood and the Spirit. They always go together, but the
Spirit is especially the power of forgiveness.
The Apostolic ministry reestablished by the risen Christ is in water, our
new beginning: "Go ye into all the world baptising every creature in the
name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Matt. 28:19);
it is in blood and the anticipated comfort of the Last Supper in the evening
at our final destination. The disciples on the road to Emmaus ask:
Then said the risen Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you:
As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. And when he had said
this, he breathed on them and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost.
Whosoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whosoever sins
ye retain, they are retained. (John 20. 21-23)
Moreover, the Apostolic ministry is in discipline and reconciliation, repentance
and forgiveness of sins, the sacrament of continual renewal: of washing,
comfort and peace on the way.
Abide with us for it is toward evening and the day is far spent.
And Jesus went in to tarry with them. And it came to pass, as he
sat at meat with them, he took bread and blessed it, and broke and gave
to them. And their eyes were opened and they knew him (Luke
The death and resurrection of Jesus surround us with the goodness of
God. We have "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today and forever,"
for he said, "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee." (Hebrews 13:8,
5) He died for our sins and has risen for our justification, that
is, to set us right with God, and to make us again fit properly into God's
right order, his goodness. We are again encompassed by the goodness
of God in the power of the resurrection of his Son. We are surrounded
by the sacraments of God's healing power conveyed by the infinite life
of Jesus. They embrace us as God does: our beginning, our end, and
This goodness is power to heal the sin of mankind. If we are serious
followers of Jesus, we find the way long, tiresome and frustrating.
The goal seems so distant. We fall so easily; everything seems an
obstacle: we are constantly frustrated by our own character and by our
circumstances: our family, friends, enemies, work, physical ills and limitations.
It seems endless. And we cannot help being angry. There are
rages--destructive furies we scarcely understand. We are frustrated
by everything and are angry. Perhaps, above all, angry with ourselves.
But all this comes from the false imagination that we are alone and confronted
by distance. Jesus, in the power of his resurrection comes instantly
into the room where we think ourselves alone and deserted. He comes
to give us his peace, to encourage us by the goodness of God which surrounds
and encompasses us. He comes to send us again on our way, strengthened
by the knowledge that nothing, not even our own wickedness and weakness,
can prevail against him:
Therefore the redeemed of the Lord shall return, and come with
singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their head: they shall
obtain gladness and joy; and sorrow and mourning shall flee away.
I, even I, am he that comforteth you: who art thou, that thou shouldest
be afraid of man that shall die, and of the son of man which shall be made
as grass. And forgettest the Lord thy maker, that hath stretched
forth the heavens, and laid the foundation of the earth. (Isaiah