Have we become so familiar with the Christian affirmation of Jesus Resurrection from the dead that we are no longer aware of the cosmic implications of that assertion?
There is no doubt that the Resurrection was the center of the apostolic preaching (see Acts 2; 2; 4; 10; 1 Cor 15). The Apostles were primarily witnesses to the Resurrection.
Since Jesus is truly risen from the dead and living to make intercession for us at the right hand of the Father, this passing world of suffering and death is not the same as it was prior to his Resurrection and glorification. For, one of us a member of our human race and a descendant of Adam has entered into the glory of God. The God-Man Jesus Christ, fully human just as we are and remaining a member of our race, has taken on a new spiritual existence. In the words of St. Paul, he has become "a life-giving spirit" (1 Cor 15:45). He is "the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep" (1 Cor 15:20). "He is the beginning, the first-born from the dead, that in everything he might be pre-eminent" (Col 1:18).
According to our human condition, everything in this world is passing away and quickly. Cultures rise and fall. Powerful states like Athens, Rome and Czarist Russia come and go. Some merit a chapter perhaps in our history books, while other receive only a page or footnote. But no matter what living conditions man finds himself in, his plight in this world is always precarious. His life is short, filled with some joy, but mostly it is a story of suffering, misunderstandings, disappointments and sorrow. Men disagree on many things, but there is no serious disagreement about the universality of finality of death for all men and women.
We know from the revelation brought to us by Jesus Christ what the source of all man's problems is: it is sin. Sin is the cause of death and all of the human suffering that surrounds it (see Rom 5:12-21). The point of Jesus' death and Resurrection is that he has basically solved these two problems of sin and death. By his own death on the Cross he overcame sin, and by his glorious Resurrection from the dead he destroyed death in principle and restored man to life. That is what the mystery of Christ is all about.
Because of the resurrection of Jesus, therefore, this old world is no longer what it seems to be, at least for the person who has faith in Jesus Christ. The world has taken on a new face. The Resurrection is the object of our faith and the basis for our hope. Jesus is "the first-born of all creation"; "He is before all things, and in him all things hold together"; God wishes"through him to reconcile all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross" (Col 1:15-20). Because of his obedience, "God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth" (Phil 2:9-10).
Because of Jesus' Resurrection, death is not what it seems to be. It is not the end, but the beginning of a new type of life for the saved. While remaining human beings of flesh and blood, we shall all be transformed (1 Cor 15:51) into "spiritual bodies" (1 Cor 15:44). And God plans, in the fullness of time, " to unite all things in him (Christ), things in heaven and things on earth" (Eph 1:10).
Thus the Resurrection of Christ has already had a profound influence on the whole cosmos. Not all men are now aware of this change, but they shall be at the end of the world. At present it is only the believing Christian who knows this truth by faith. He also experiences it, though in a veiled way, through his experience of the grace of God and when he sincerely proclaims in the Nicene Creed: "On the third day he rose again in fulfillment of the Scriptures."
See the index of chapters from Fundamentals of Catholicism which have been reprinted to CERC here.
Kenneth Baker, S.J. "The Cosmic Effects of Jesus' Resurrection." In Fundamentals of Catholicism Vol. 1 Chapter 24 (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1995), 75-76.
This article reprinted with permission from Father Kenneth Baker, S.J.
Rev. Kenneth Baker, S.J., has served for the past thirty years as editor of the Homiletic & Pastoral Review. He entered the Society of Jesus in 1947. In 1970 he served as president of Seattle University and in 1971 became editor of the Homiletic & Pastoral Review. In 1973 he published his translation of the Philosophical Dictionary and adapted it to American usage. In 1975 he became president of Catholic Views Broadcasts, Inc., which produces a weekly 15-minute radio program that airs on 50 stations across the United States. He has built and run three community television stations. In 1983 he published a three-volume explation of the faith called Fundamentals of Catholicism Vol. 1, Creed and Commandments; Vol. 2, God, Trinity, Creation, Christ, Mary; and Vol. 3, Grace, the Church, the Sacraments, Eschatology.Copyright © 1995 Fr. Kenneth Baker, S.J.
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