'It behooved Christ to suffer and to rise again from the dead' (Lk.24:46)
These eight days are a great cause of rejoicing, rejoicing over the Resurrection of our Lord. He Who is Life, could not be held down by the chains of death. He had beforehand descended to the dead to preach the Good News of salvation to those imprisoned there, those who had longed for the Messias during their own lives, but had died before the promise was fulfilled.
Death is the one enemy whom man can not conquer. This foe can be stalled through advances in technology, science and medicine, but it can not be entirely overcome by the strength and cunning of men alone. He Who paid the debt that we were unable to pay took on our death, which was the punishment owing to the fall of Adam, has reversed a source of mourning for men into a joy. Death although not pleasant, as it is contrary for our nature to suffer the separation of body and soul, may be used to bring us to the One.
Death is not an abrupt ending to a woeful and lamentable existence that we call 'life', but the passage into Eternity. A passage through with we can come to contemplate the ineffable essence of the One true God. We have a great hope stored up for us because of the one Sacrifice of Christ, which is sufficient for the salvation of all men. We poor creatures, creatures of wrath by nature, have become through no merit of our own sons of the Most High God, and heirs to the promise.
Let us move forward, beseeching the Lord for the endurance that we may carry our crosses with hope and patience. Suffering is the Way of the Master. Jesus our Messias has gone before us, sanctifying the route that we must take. No suffering is therefore unworthy of the spiritual man, if it be done for the love of God.
As this blog is dedicated to an exploration of Latin theology, it is pertinent to cite the Angelic Doctor, Saint Thomas. In the Summa Theologica (III, Q53, A1) he states five reasons for the fittingness of the Resurrection.
1) It is appropriate that Christ Who humbled Himself for the Father's sake should be exalted as this is in accordance with Divine Justice. 'He hath put down the mighty from their seat, and hath exalted the lowly' (Lk 1.52). Who has so humbled themselves as Christ did, Who submitted to death, death on a cross, when He was and still is spotless and innocent?
2) Also, Christ rose in order to teach us the truth concerning His Divinity. Saint Paul states, 'He was crucified through weakness, yet He liveth by the power of God' (2 Cor.13.4), and 'If Christ be not risen again, then is our preaching vain, and our faith is also vain' (1 Cor.15.14). How can we place our trust in Him who claimed to be 'I AM' and presented Himself as the Life, if He were to suffer the same fate as men and be imprisoned in death?
3) Christ rose again for the benefit of our hope. If Christ truly rose again, then we have a foretaste of what we will be when the time comes. The Apostle remarks, 'Now if Christ be preached that He rose from the dead, how do some among you say, that there is no resurrection of the dead?' (1 Cor. 15.12).
4) This happened to order our lives. As we were baptised into the death of Christ (Rom. 6-14), we should not live for things of the passing earth. We are alive in the spirit and dead to perishable goods.
5) Our Lord rose to complete the work of salvation. He suffered evil things in laying down His life for our reconciliation with the Father, thereby delivering us from evil, 'so was He glorified in rising again in order to advance us towards good things.' Romans states, 'He was delivered up for our sins, and rose again for our justification.' (4.25)