03 April 2021

Alleluia! Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Truly Risen, Alleluia, Alleluia!! (Partial Reprise)

 For the next 50 days we have time to attend to what Jesus' death and resurrection changed, what became real because of these. You see, in light of these events we live in a different world than existed before them, and we ourselves, by virtue of our Baptism into Christ's death, are new creations as well. While all this makes beautiful poetry, and while, as John Ciardi once reminded us, poetry can save us in the dark and threatening alleys of life, we do not base our lives on poetry alone. Objective reality was transformed with Jesus' passion and death; something astounding, universal, even cosmic in scope, happened in these events which had not only to do with our own salvation but with the recreation of all of reality. One of Paul's shorthand phrases for this transformation was "the death of death," something I hope to be able to look at a bit more as these 50 days unfold. We have already begun to see what happens in our Church as Christ's own life begins to shine forth more brightly in a myriad of small but significant ways. Not least is the figure of Francis who has many of us singing a heartfelt alleluia in gratitude to the Holy Spirit.

But, it is probably good to recall that the early Church struggled to make sense of the cross, and that faith in resurrection took some time to take hold. Surprisingly, no single theology of the cross is held as official, and variations --- many quite destructive --- exist throughout the Church. Even today a number of these mistakenly affirm that in various ways God was reconciled to us rather than the other way around. Others affirm that Jesus' death was merely the consequence of his ministry -- his speaking truth to power in all the ways Jesus did this --- and that nothing besides Jesus' horrific death occurred on the cross. An entirely passive Jesus was crushed on the wheel of the world's powers and principalities. His death, they claim, was really unnecessary for God to do what God willed to do. In particular they miss the way Jesus' complete dependence upon and attentive openness (obedience) to God on the cross continued Jesus' ministry to reveal One who would be Emmanuel in even the most godforsaken and shameful places. Only in time did the nascent Church come to terms with the scandalous death of Jesus and embrace him as risen, and so, as the Christ who reveals (both makes known and makes real in space and time) a God whose power is perfected in weakness. Only in time did she come to understand how different God had made the world, especially for those who had been baptized into Jesus' death. Thus, in celebrating what happened on the cross, the Church offers us a period of time to come to understand and embrace its meaning and scope; the time from Easter Sunday through Pentecost is, in part, geared to this.

Today, then, is a day of celebration, and a day to simply allow the shock and sadness of the cross (and certainly of the past year and more!) to be completely relieved for the moment. Lent is over, the Triduum has reached a joyful climax, the season of Easter has begun and we once again sing alleluia at our liturgies. Though it will take time to fully understand and embrace all this means, through the Church's liturgies and the readings we have heard we do sense that we now live in a world where death in all its forms has a different character and meaning than it did before Christ's resurrection --- and therefore so does life. On this day darkness has given way to light, and senselessness to meaning -- even though we may not really be able to explain to ourselves or others exactly why or how. On this day we proclaim that Christ is risen! Not even sinful, godforsaken death could hold him or separate him from the love of God -- and it cannot hold or separate us as a result. Alleluia! Alleluia!!