Saturday, April 13, 2013

Jesus - not one of the resurrected . . . the Resurrection itself! (von Balthasar)

Hans Urs von Balthasar (1905–1988) a Swiss theologian and priest (who almost become a cardinal, but died before the ceremony) was a favourite theologian of both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI. He is considered to be one of the most important - and cultured - Christian thinkers of the 20th century. I have lifted this quote from Fr Aidan Kimel’s excellent blog HERE.

I am the resurrection and the life, but not as the world knows them: that decaying cycle of springs and autumns, that millstone of melancholy, that aping of eternal life. All the world’s living and dying, taken together, are one great death, and it is this death that I awaken to life. Once I entered the world, a new and unknown sap began to circulate in the veins and branches of nature. The powers of destiny, the might of the planets, the demons of the blood, the rulers of the air, the spirit of the earth, and whatever other dark things still cover in the secret folds of creation: all of this has now been subdued and is ordered about and must obey the higher law. All the world’s form is to me but matter that I inspirit. My action is not grafted from without to the old life, to the old pleasure-gardens of Pan; being the very life of life, I transform the marrow from within. All that dies becomes the property of my life. All that passes over in autumn runs ashore on my spring. All that turns to mold fertilizes my blossoms. All that denies has already been convicted; all that covets has already been dispossessed; all that stiffens has already been broken.

I am not one of the resurrected; I am the resurrection itself. Whoever lives in me, whoever is taken up into me, is taken up in resurrection. I am the transformation. As bread and wine are transformed, so the world is transformed into me. The grain of mustard is tiny, and yet its inner might does not rest until it overshadows all the world’s plants. Neither does my Resurrection rest until the grave of the last soul has burst, and my powers have reached even to the furthest-branch of creation. You see death; you feel the descent to the end. But death is itself a life, perhaps the most living life; it is the darkening depth of my life, and the end is itself the beginning, and the descent is itself the soaring up.

What can still be called death after I have died my death? Does not every dying from now on receive the meaning and seal of my death? Is its significance not that of a stretching out of the arms and a perfect sacrifice into the bosom of my Father? In death the barriers fall away; in death the ever-forbidden lock snaps open; the sluice bursts, the waters pour out freely. All the terrors that hover around death are morning mists that disperse into the blue. Even the slow death of souls when they bitterly shut themselves off from God—when they entrench and wall themselves up, when the world towers up around them like the pit of a grave, and all love becomes as the smell of mould, and hope withers, and a cold defiance rears its head and shows its tongue, a viper up from the depths: have I not suffered my way through all these deaths. And what can their poison do against the deadly antidote of my love? Every horror became for my love a garment in which to conceal itself, a wall through which to walk.

Do not be afraid of death. Death is the liberating flame of the sacrifice, and sacrifice is transformation. But Eucharistic transformation is communion in my eternal life. I am Life. Whoever believes in me, whoever eats and drinks me, has life in himself, eternal life, already here and now, and I will raise him up on the last day.


Post a Comment