Thursday, April 12, 2012

Something Worth Pondering

Easter is the feast of the new creation.  Jesus is risen and dies no more.  He has opened the door to a new life, one that no longer knows illness and death.  He has taken mankind up into God himself.  “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God”, as Saint Paul says in the First Letter to the Corinthians ().  On the subject of Christ’s resurrection and our resurrection, the Church writer Tertullian in the third century was bold enough to write: “Rest assured, flesh and blood, through Christ you have gained your place in heaven and in the Kingdom of God” (CCL II, 994).

A new dimension has opened up for mankind.  Creation has become greater and broader.  Easter Day ushers in a new creation, but that is precisely why the Church starts the liturgy on this day with the old creation, so that we can learn to understand the new one aright.  At the beginning of the Liturgy of the Word on Easter night, then, comes the account of the creation of the world.  Two things are particularly important here in connection with this liturgy.  On the one hand, creation is presented as a whole that includes the phenomenon of time.  The seven days are an image of completeness, unfolding in time.  They are ordered towards the seventh day, the day of the freedom of all creatures for God and for one another.  Creation is therefore directed towards the coming together of God and his creatures; it exists so as to open up a space for the response to God’s great glory, an encounter between love and freedom.  On the other hand, what the Church hears on Easter night is above all the first element of the creation account: “God said, ‘let there be light!’” (Gen 1:3).

Homily, Easter Vigil, 2012

Reflection – Hello, everyone! I’m back. My hiatus from blogging ended up being a bit longer than anticipated. Immediately after the Easter solemn feasting and joy I got hit with a very nasty stomach bug that had been making its way around MH the past few weeks and finally settled on me as its Final Victim. I guess it didn’t get the memo about Easter being a season of feasting and happiness. So I’ve been thoroughly laid low the past couple of days.

Anyhow, here I am, more or less back to normal. And I thought I would spend the next little while reflecting with Pope Benedict on this great feast of Easter. The season goes on for fifty days, after all, so we shouldn’t be too fast to move away from it. The Church isn’t.

And so we see that Pope Benedict returns in this homily to what has been a favourite theme of his over the years—the creation account in Genesis and its theological implications. He will go on next to expand on the meaning of ‘light,’ and we will discuss that tomorrow. First, though, is his reflection on creation as a process through time that culminates in the seventh day. This is the day of worship, and all creation is oriented towards it. We are made for God, for relationship with Him, for communion with Him. The Sabbath day is this day of encounter with God in the goodness and beauty of what He has made.

And the Church in its wisdom puts this reading at the forefront of the Easter Vigil, where Christ inaugurates the New Creation, but a new creation that harmonizes and reflects the old one. This ‘space for the response to God’s great glory’ is opened up for us in the opening of the pierced side of Christ, and in the opening of the empty tomb; the ‘encounter of love and freedom’ is the encounter of the Risen One with his disciples and with the women.

By starting our Easter proclamation with the creation account of Genesis, the Church underlines the cosmic dimensions of what happened in Jerusalem 2000 years ago. It truly changed everything (even stomach bugs? Maybe…), and we are still pondering that change. Because of Christ and his Resurrection, all creation has been brought into a ‘greater and broader’ encounter with God, a greater depth of union with its Creator. It’s worth pondering, even for fifty days or 2000 years, eh?

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