St-Gregory-the-DialogistThere are two lives; one of which we knew, the other we did not know of.

The one is mortal, the other immortal; the one linked with human infirmity, the other to incorruption; one is marked for death, the other for resurrection.

The Mediator between God and man, the Man Jesus Christ, came, and took upon Himself the one, and revealed to us the other.

The one He endured by dying; the other He revealed when He rose from the dead.

Had He then foretold to us, who knew His mortal life, the Resurrection of His Body, and had not visibly shown it to us, who would believe in His promises?

So, becoming Man, He shows Himself in our flesh; of His own will He suffered death; by His own power He rose from the dead; and by this proof He showed us that which He promises as a reward.

But perhaps someone will say: Of course He rose: for being God He could not be held in death. So, to give light to our understanding, to strengthen our weakness, He willed to give us proof, and not of His Resurrection only.

In that hour He died alone; but He did not rise alone from the dead. For it is written: And many bodies of the saints that had slept arose (Mt. 27:52). He has therefore taken away the argument of those who do not believe.

And let no one say: No man can hope that that will happen to him which the God-man proved to us in His Body; for here we learn that men did rise again with God, and we do not doubt that these were truly men.

If then we are the members of our Redeemer, let us look forward to that which we know was fulfilled in our Head. Even if we should be diffident, we ought to hope that what we have heard of His worthier members will be fulfilled also in us His meanest members.

Had He come down from the Cross, He would not have proved to us the power of patience. He waited for the little time left, He bore with their insults, He submitted to their mockery, He continued patient, and evoked our admiration; and He Who refused to descend from the Cross, rose again from the sepulchre.

More did it matter so to rise from the sepulchre than to descend from the Cross. A far greater thing was it to overcome death by rising from the sepulchre, than to preserve life by descending from the Cross.

Gregory the Great (c.540-604): Sermon on the Holy Day of the Resurrection, 6-7, in M.F. Toal: The Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers: Volume 2 – From the First Sunday in Lent to the Sunday After the Ascension, pp.241ff.