Monday, April 1, 2013

Easter is about OUR resurrection, too!

Most people in our culture know that Easter is when Christians celebrate the rising of Jesus from the dead. However, many of our friends outside the regular life of the Church don’t realise that it's also when we celebrate OUR rising from the dead. I’m not talking so much about the resurrection of our bodies at the second coming of Christ (although that’s part of it). I’m talking about the reality St Paul writes about in Romans 6:3-4:

“Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” 

By faith and baptism we were plunged into the dying and rising of Jesus. We were joined to his death and rose from the watery grave sharing the dynamic of his risen life.

As St Paul said in Romans 8:11:

“ . . . the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead dwells in you . . .”

In Philippians 3:10 the same apostle says that part of his determined purpose in this life is 

“to know . . . the power of his (i.e. Jesus’) resurrection . . .”

That’s why, all over the world, at Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday Masses, large numbers of children and adults are baptised. That’s why at those same Masses we who are already baptised renew our baptismal promises, and - as a sign of that renewal - are sprinkled with the blessed baptismal water from the font. By his dying and rising, the Lord has lovingly and powerfully released his supernatural risen life into the cosmos, and into our lives through our baptismal identification with him.

So, at Easter we celebrate JESUS’ resurrection as well as OUR resurrection.

With that in mind, I share with you today two beautiful passages. The first is from Gordon Fee’s remarkable commentary: Paul’s Letter To The Philippians, p. 50-51:

"And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)

With the resurrection of Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit, God has already set the future inexorably in motion. The fact that the future has already begun with the coming of God himself (through Christ and the Spirit) means two crucial things for Paul: that the consummation is absolutely guaranteed, and that present existence is therefore altogether determined by this reality. That is, one’s life in the present is not conditioned or determined by present exigencies, but by the singular reality that God’s people belong to the future that has already come present. Marked by Christ’s death and resurrection and identified as God’s people by the gift of the Spirit, they live the life of the future in the present, determined by its values and perspective, no matter what their present circumstances.

The second passage is by Abu Daoud, an Anglican missionary to the Middle East, and was published in St Francis Magazine Vol 8, No 2 April 2012:

“Christianity is built on the conviction that out of the most radical and disastrous despair, God turned the tables on the Empire and the Temple that killed his Son, and his resurrection was nothing less than the victory of God. The power of life in that resurrection flowed out into a community called out by God, the Church. That community was called to be a sacrament of secret life and an imperfect but real embassy of God’s reign, which, like yeast in dough, spreads and leavens.”


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