Monday, February 13, 2012

Bishop N.T. Wright's Address to the Italian (R.C.) Bishops' Conference

The Right Reverend Professor N. T. ("Tom") Wright of the University of St Andrews, former Church of England Bishop of Durham, was the guest of the Italian Roman Catholic Bishop's Conference meeting from 9th to 11th February, the theme of which was "Jesus our Contemporary." This is how his paper begins:

I am very grateful for the invitation to participate in this assembly, and for your welcome and hospitality to my wife and myself. It is good to be here in Rome once again, and among friends.

I am particularly glad to be able to say something on the subject of the Resurrection of Jesus, within the overall topic of ‘Jesus, our Contemporary’. There is already here a considerable paradox. On the one hand, it is precisely because Jesus is risen from the dead that he is alive in a new, unique way; that he is able to be with us as a living presence, which we know in prayer and silence, in reading scripture and in the sacraments, and (not least) in the service of the poor. All those things he has promised us, and his promises do not fail. He is, in that sense, truly our contemporary. But at the same time, as our title indicates, in his resurrection Jesus stands over against us. He is different. He is the first fruits; we are the harvest that still awaits. He has gone on ahead while we wait behind. What is more, the meaning of his resurrection cannot be reduced to anything so comfortable as simple regarding him as ‘contemporary’ in the sense of a friend beside us, a smiling and comforting presence. Because he is raised from the dead, he is Lord of the world, sovereign over the whole cosmos, the one before whom we bow the knee, believing that in the end every creature will come to do so as well.

The title I have been given [‘Christ is Risen from the Dead, the First Fruits of Those who have Died’] is a quotation from St Paul, in the first letter to the Corinthians. This is a famous and central passage and I shall return to it in due course. But I want to begin with some wider reflections about the resurrection: about the event and its meaning.

Go HERE to continue reading.


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