Thoughts in expectation of the Risen Christ
March 26, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Our Creator is the transcendent being, antecedent to all existence, who consistently challenges humanity to rise, by the Word of God’s Truth, to the perfection implied in the intention of His benevolent will. He is the Word that called us into existence in the first place; and that, to sustain us, continually recalls the terms and limits we are bound and determined to observe in order to preserve and perpetuate that existence. As Jesus Christ, He did so in the flesh, enduring the consequence of the sin by which we die, so that in His spirit, we might live.
The limits God’s Word calls us to observe are the laws that govern our nature, and the nature of all things. But Christ’s challenge to us is not merely to observe them in action. It is to bring to that observance the heart, soul, mind, and strength that he brought to them; which is to say, the whole substance all Three persons of God brought in the act of creation that makes and maintains what we are. This substance of being, evoked by the name of love, is the meaning of God’s creation. It encompasses our life, and all its needs and possibilities. It does so without stint, so long as we remember, reflect and act within the purview of God’s timeless and eternal will.
Now, “there’s the rub,” as Shakespeare’s character observed. How can beings bound to understand things in time and space comprehend the meaning of existence in terms of being timeless and eternal? Christ is the answer. Christ is God. God is “… the Alpha and the Omega… who is and was and who is to come. The Almighty.” (Revelation 1:8)
However, not everyone is disposed to see God in Jesus Christ. Such incomprehension plainly appears in Christ’s encounter with the Jews (John 8:21-25) to whom he said:
I go: and you shall seek me. And you shall die in your sin. Whither I go you cannot come. The Jews, therefore, said: “Will he kill himself, because he said: Whither I go you cannot come.” And he said to them: “You are from beneath: I am from above. You are of this world: I am not of this world. Therefore, I said to you that you shall die in your sins. For if you believe not that I am he, you shall die in your sin.” They said therefore to him: “Who are you?” Jesus said to them: The beginning, who also speak to you.”
Christ’s words to his doubters recall the beginning. They evoke the logic with which the Evangelist traces the ontological lineage of Christ: From the Word, through whom all things were made; to the Word made flesh, that dwelt (and still dwells, cf. Matthew 8:20) amongst us.
As Christ connects humanity to its beginning, so he reconnects us to the end God intends for our existence. But since, as God, Christ is both Alpha and Omega, that end is in God, not in death. By his willingness to brave death, in our form and for our sake, he brings within reach what is otherwise incomprehensible to us—the being of God within us that extends itself beyond all limits, and that wants nothing more than to take us along with him—out of the reach of death.
But in order thus to extend our being for as long as God intends, we must accept the way of being, in and through which He makes it comprehensible to us. Christ is that way. Thus, the Scripture tells us:
Peter says to Christ “Whither are you leading?”. Christ answers Whither I lead, you cannot follow me now, but you will follow hereafter. Peter says to him: “Why cannot I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Jesus answers: Will you lay down your life for me? Amen, amen, I say to you, the cock shall not crow till you deny me three times.” (John 13:36-38)
Christ answers Peter, knowing full well that Peter cannot experience death as Jesus is to experience it until, by dint of death and Resurrection, Christ has restored God’s true intention for life, humanly understood. Original sin perverted that intention. On that account, death entered into our nature. But Christ, lifted up in the flesh, restores God’s original intention. Once that is accomplished, when they gather for Pentecost, Peter and others present with him, will be filled with the Holy Spirit of God and Christ. The true information of God for our nature, restored to them in and through Christ, will dispel the fear that led all but a few, to flee the prospect of death Christ had to endure.
This renewal of their minds takes place in and through the sacrifice of Christ. In that sacrifice, God, in human form, bears away all the consequences of sin humanity brought and brings upon itself—including death. This forgiveness of sin formally extends to all. But in each case, it depends on the individual’s decision prayerfully to strive for and accept God’s grace, in order to measure up to the Godly form of human existence Christ seeks, even now, to instill in all who are disposed to receive it.
In the beginning, God Himself authorized our decision, when He said: “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness.” Now, the Word made flesh has reiterated His good will, once and for all, in a form human beings can see and appreciate in Christ. If and when we are willing to receive him, the Risen Christ resurrects and renews in us the life for which God made humanity. We need only believe in Him, and so lead lives that say, Amen.