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Greedy Death Unraveled

Reflection on the Basilica Hymn for the Fourth Sunday of the Resurrection

For more reflections on the Basilica Hymns of each season, purchase Perpetual Jubilee: Meditations on the Chaldean Liturgical Year on Amazon.com.

The Center of the World

The British having taken over a great part of the world in past centuries placed the “Prime Meridian,” the “zero-point” of the globe, through Greenwich, London, effectively making themselves the “center” of the world, and the location of everything else in the world relative to them. “West” meant “west of London,” and east meant “east of London;” the same goes for the still-used terms “middle east” and “far east.” The Babylonians were the first to make such a bold declaration, and placed themselves in the center when they drew the first known map of the world. It is the trademark of any dominant culture to make itself the reference-point to which everything else is related.

For the Christian faith, it is not a city that is powerful in worldly terms that is the center, nor a place famed for its beauty or magnificence that is looked at as the reference for all around it. This is because the Christian faith is not about dominion or magnificence, but rather salvation. The Gospel is not about the sword taking over country after country by force, but about the redemption of the whole human race offered freely in the Blood of Christ. The Church is not about political force, but about the spiritual power of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the center and focus of this new Order in the world is not London or Babylon, but the city of Jerusalem.

Universality

One momentary event in one city, the crucifixion of Christ in Jerusalem, makes waves all over the world:

“The cross was established in Jerusalem, and all creatures were gladdened; greedy death was unraveled in it, and the power of demons was taken away.”

Its effects are not even limited to the physical world: death and demons are defeated by it. The authority of this new spiritual empire is wider than that of the empires of old, because it expands to the non-physical, and death, a concept, and demons, spiritual beings, become its slaves the way those conquered by the empires of old became its slaves.

Its expansion to the spiritual realm assumes that its expansion on earth is complete; the Gospel is preached not only to one nation, but to all, and the concept of Judaism is here made a symbol for exclusivity: “it chased the Jews away to the four corners of the earth, and it gathered the nations together, and brought them into the kingdom:” As opposed to a “national religion,” we have now, because of the cross, an “international faith.”

The Undoing of Adam’s Defeat

The war that Satan fought against the human race began at its beginning, with Adam, and that first battle was lost by mankind. Because the battle was lost, earth, paradise and the human soul became the territory of the empire of the devil. But the cross, on which Christ shows how even God’s weakest moment is mightier than Satan, fights the battle a second time:

“that paradise of heaven which Adam lost when he disobeyed, and the Second Adam conquered in Judah, returning its land to the kingdom.”

At the creation, God gave Adam authority over the earth, to rule it in his Name: “fill the earth and subdue it…” This authority, though not entirely revoked, was made incomplete and impure at the moment when Adam and Eve sinned. No more did they completely speak in God’s Name, because they had failed in keeping his commandment, and no more were they God’s image in all purity. But the true Image of God, the Second Adam, came down to earth and obeyed in order to undo the first Adam’s disobedience. Finally, the world has again one King, who is both God and Man, and who rules both heaven and earth: “He took on authority in heaven and on earth, for lo, assemblies of angels worship before him, and they all cry out in one voice: thanksgiving to the Son of the Lord of All!”