Lift up your heads, you gates….

[This from the apocryphal Gospel of Nicodemus:]

While Satan and Hades were thus speaking to each other, there was a great voice like thunder, saying: Lift up your gates, O you rulers; and be lifted up, you everlasting gates; and the King of glory shall come in. When Hades heard, he said to Satan: Go forth, if you are able, and withstand him. Satan therefore went forth to the outside. Then Hades says to his demons: Secure well and strongly the gates of brass and the bars of iron, and attend to my bolts, and stand in order, and see to everything; for if he come in here, woe will seize us.

The forefathers having heard this, began all to revile him, saying: O all-devouring and insatiable! Open, that the King of glory may come in. David the prophet says: Do you not know, O blind, that I when living in the world prophesied this saying: Lift up your gates, O you rulers? Hosea said: I, foreseeing this by the Holy Spirit, wrote: The dead shall rise up, and those in their tombs shall be raised, and those in the earth shall rejoice. And where, O death, is your sting? Where, O Hades, is your victory?

There came, then, again a voice saying: Lift up the gates. Hades, hearing the voice the second time, answered as if forsooth he did not know, and says: Who is this King of glory? The angels of the Lord say: The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle. And immediately with these words the brazen gates were shattered, and the iron bars broken, and all the dead who had been bound came out of the prisons, and we with them. And the King of glory came in in the form of a man, and all the dark places of Hades were lighted up.

Immediately Hades cried out: We have been conquered: woe to us! But who are you, that have such power and might? And what are you, who come here without sin, who are seen to be small and yet of great power, lowly and exalted, the slave and the master, the soldier and the king, who have power over the dead and the living? You were nailed on the cross, and placed in the tomb; and now you are free, and have destroyed all our power. Are you then the Jesus about whom the chief satrap Satan told us, that through cross and death you are to inherit the whole world?

Then the King of glory seized the chief satrap Satan by the head, and delivered him to His angels, and said: With iron chains bind his hands and his feet, and his neck, and his mouth. Then He delivered him to Hades, and said: Take him, and keep him secure till my second appearing.

[The third Psalm of the Office of Readings today is Psalm 24, long associated with Holy Saturday. Take a look.]

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Author: Dr. Holmes

Dr. Jeremy Holmes teaches Theology at Wyoming Catholic College. He lives in Wyoming with his wife, Jacinta, and their eight children.

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