Easter is past and Pascha is soon for those Christians who worship in the East, but East or West, all Christians recall Saint George. He was a soldier who sided with the Prince of Peace and so lost his life to the Empire. While an entire nation in the East is named for him (Georgia!), England in the West also celebrates him as patron. The Red Cross on a white field was worn by a hero in Spencer’s Faerie Queene and Shakespeare not only invoked him in Henry V, but was born and died on this, his feast day.
Saint George is a legendary kind of saint!
When he was murdered by the state, things must have looked quite different. He was a fine soldier, a hero, yet his Christianity made his life disposable. George chose King Jesus over the Roman Emperor and the result was not only death. He is most often described as “Triumphant.”
George knew the truth, had been changed by beauty, and wanted what was good more than short term victory. He was brave enough for Love, as Jane Eyre would say. He was not afraid to die, because he lived for Someone eternal and by loving this Eternal Person, he was not afraid to fight for the great and eternal victory. George was in a real cosmic war between the twisting, smashing, breaking tyranny of world powers, broken desire, and devils and the good, true, and beautiful God.
The Roman Empire did not have a chance against God’s warrior, because George served a risen Lord who left the empty tomb and humankind’s enemies under His feet. Some of the best iconography of the resurrection pictures Christ Triumphant with the focus on Him and not the vacant tomb. Death and sin are under His feet and Jesus Christ has moved on to comfort and rejoice with His friends . . . Forever Triumphant.
The failure of modern faith to point from the empty tomb to the High Courts of Heaven has caused us to forget that this life is not all there is. We do not follow a God who prioritizes just now over justice or immediate victory over the perpetual triumph coming. Instead, we serve a God-man who restored the possibility of full human adulthood: we can be changed and so body, mind, and spirit live in nature with God.
George did not worship a bloodless King or a bodiless power. George was a dragon-slayer in life and after death, because George was martyred into Triumph. This is not the triumphalism that seeks earthly wins or power by any means: this is full-blooded, fearless victory of a man for life, love, and the Lord!
May we like Saint George stand for the right, triumphant, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.