The Risen Christ has defeated death. This should not be such a surprise when we consider that the Lógos is the Principal and origin of all being, all life – to which death is logically posterior, and upon which it depends, as a parasite. Nonbeing can’t have defects such as death, for it is not anything at all, either good or bad.
Still it is a surprise, indeed a shock; for most people, it is simply incredible. Destroying death looks to us impossible, because to us it is impossible.
In Jesus, we see a man like us surmounting death (not to mention the rest of nature). Most Christians I have known are still struggling to come to terms with this notion; they want to believe it, but have no idea how to. Thus most Easter sermons I have heard were about how, as surely as spring refreshes the world, so there is hope of renewal for our broken relationships, lost hopes, and so forth; true enough and hopeful, but in the final analysis merely worldly discourses, eschewing any honest straightforward grapple with the main thing, the metaphysical thing: Jesus is God, and God wins.
That’s the most common difficulty with Christianity. We have a hard time, naturally, thinking that Jesus just is the Lógos. In just the same way, we have a hard time conceiving that death might be overcome. But once get clear that God, being omnipotent, can be a man if he so chooses, so that from his perspective there is nothing untoward in the procedure, then one can see that Jesus might have been telling the simple truth in saying of himself that, “Before Abraham was, I AM.”
If God is God, God can be Jesus. If Jesus is God, then Jesus can destroy death. And so he has. Jesus has triumphed, demonstrating to those with ears to hear and eyes to see that death, as not ultimate, just cannot be our final terminus ad quem; so, it isn’t. We are all bound to everlasting life of some sort – either with God, or without him.
God triumphs in and for man by man, and as a man. The triumph of man over death is in a human animal body, resurrected and perfected from all defects, restored to its original, natural condition – and, to our eyes now here below, its preternaturally powerful and gifted status.
Notice then that bodies are procedures of worlds, and vice versa. It isn’t quite possible to obtain a properly functioning human body other than as integral with a world very like the one we now live in, and to which we are most elegantly fitted.
The resurrection of the body then entails the resurrection of our own dear cosmos, perfected – for, a perfected resurrection body requires a perfected world – so that she fully expresses all the goods of which she is capable – all the goods that can be expressed without contradiction (that are, i.e., true goods), and – best of all – without bound.
In the resurrection, then, no fond things dear to us and truly good shall be left behind. They shall all be present, all at once, indeed far more present than ever they had been here in this world doomed soon all to die. It shall be a grand reunion, of all that any of us have ever cherished, and lost. A wedding feast! Jesus is organizing the whole thing, and we are invited. All we need to do is show up, suitably attired.
Hurray! It is spring. Spring here below is a foreshadow of that life everlasting, springing up already and always, eternally, unto everlasting, worlds of worlds, worlds without end, Amen.
Happy Easter to the writers and readers here.
Indeed he is risen. And so is all creation.
Happy Easter to Western Christian readers!
This year, the feast of the Annunciation on the Eastern/old calendar fell on the same day as Western Good Friday. That happens about three times a century; the last occurrence was in A.D. 1950, and the next time will be in A.D. 2034. As I was leaving the liturgy Friday morning, I mused about the coincidence of feasts that marked the beginning and the end of the Lord’s (mortal?, earthly?) ministry.
And earlier, while admiring the beautiful blue vestments that the priests and servers were wearing, befitting a feast for the Theotokos, I remembered reading that the Orthodox owed their blue vestments to Latin clerics. Blue isn’t the traditional color for Mary in the East. In icons, her inner garment is blue (signifying her earthiness by nature), while her outer garment is royal red, as she became the queen of all. The color scheme for her son is the reverse; royal by nature but having assumed (put on) humanity. Anyway, the blue outer garment, I’ve heard, developed in the West during the medieval period to represent the Assumption (blue for the sky). And so Westerners took the blue idea east, and the Orthodox adopted it — not for icons, but for vestments on Marian feasts.
Interestingly, a RC priest friend of mine told me that only a few places in the West allow blue vestments for Marian feasts. Portugal, perhaps? I don’t understand why the blue-bearers themselves don’t bear blue!
“Notice then that bodies are procedures of worlds, and vice versa. It isn’t quite possible to obtain a properly functioning human body other than as integral with a world very like the one we now live in, and to which we are most elegantly fitted.”
Kristor, I’ve never encountered this argument before, but it’s splendid.
“It shall be a grand reunion.”
I understand the attraction, but I also find the gregariousness of the heavenly kingdom quite terrifying and repugnant. I often wonder whether I’m necessarily hell-bound as a misanthrope. I suspect so. Nonetheless, last week or so, I indulged my inner nine-year old (who, honestly, orchestrates a large portion of my psyche) in thinking how wonderful it would be to ride various species of dinosaurs in the restored cosmos, including — and especially — a T. rex (of course!). Didn’t Don Bluth establish decisively that all theropods go to heaven? Maybe I’m getting things mixed up . . . And not just dinosaurs. While the masses may pine for grandma and folks of refined sensibilities may seek conversation with Baudelaire, I’d really like to hang out with Surus, Bucephalus, Traveller, and Laika. I remember some scolding on this site against people who befriend beasts instead of people, but some of us are simply Radagastian, whom ye mighty will always see as foolish, decadent, and irresponsible. Your counsel moves us not.
I, too, am a solitary sort. I get on very well with animals, more reliably than with humans. I find parties almost unbearable. I console myself that in the world perfected, solitude must be even nicer than it is now, while companionship shall be utterly easy – i.e., wholly free of the unease that subtly taints almost all human interactions of the present dire age – so that I shall there enjoy parties just as much as I now enjoy a walk in the woods with a good canine friend.