The transformation of History
We sing “Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing Life!” Until the Ascension, we greet each other with “Christ is risen!” We believe that Christ the Lord is bodily resurrected and that on the last day all will be resurrected with their bodies. During Bright Week, the first week after Pascha, we sing the Easter canon: “This is the day of the Resurrection: people, let us be radiant with joy! This is the Pascha, the Pascha of the Lord!” All year long, every Sunday, we celebrate the resurrection of the Lord: the structure of the liturgical year is paschal; even more: the time and space of this world have gained a paschal structure, an opening unto the eternal divine Life that continually comes into it, inhabits it and springs from it…
An absolute newness
But do we draw all the consequences of the Resurrection? A great Eastern Christian, born in Syria in 1921, Patriarch of Antioch and a good French writer, Ignace Hazim, published The Resurrection and the Man of Today, in Beirut in 1970 (and in Paris in 1981) . From the Middle East, where Christians are crucified and slaughtered like lambs, comes to us a word of life, the courageous confession of the bodily resurrection of the God-Man and of the universal resurrection at the end. the times.
We can drink from these pages or reread them. The Patriarch got his inspiration from the verse of the Book of Revelation: “Behold, I do all things new” (21.5). He shows that the Resurrection is an event, “the event of newness”. In their conscience, in their words, and in their deeds, Christians bear the power, not only of renewal, but of radical newness. We do not only remember the resurrection of Christ as an event that took place once and for all. “The biblical view of History is that the creative Newness is explained not by the past, but by the future”, writes Ignatius IV. The Resurrection is newness in motion. It turns History into a “Pascha”, the passage of this world to a new creation. It is a “hidden power,” an “energy,” which spreads now throughout the universe, through the Gospel. The Word incarnate comes into our world of death, “He enters death”, and breaks the slavery of man, captive in the chains of the devil, of sin, of death, and of the law.
Living with the consequences of the Resurrection
But, asks the Patriarch, how does “the paschal event, that took place once and for all, become ours today?” By the Holy Spirit, he answers: the Spirit introduces a new dynamism, a tension from death to life, “into our horizontal world”. We believe, and the spiritual people see it, that the work of the Spirit wins every day over the diabolical work of death. And the baptized, far from leaving the paschal event buried in insignificance, continually bear witness to it by their thoughts, their words, and their deeds.
The power of the Resurrection is at work in the sacramental structure of the Church, through the grace of baptism, through the chrismal unction, and the Eucharistic transfiguration. It is manifest in the life of the whole person, in holiness, according to the anthropology of a real deification. It is recognizable by the obvious charisms of the baptized. Their presence in the world attests to the proximity of the Kingdom, up to martyrdom, whatever the horrors committed on the surface of the earth. They are “the living and prophetic conscience of the drama of our time” and the pains of childbirth, according to the word of the Apostle (Rm 8:22). This entails the essential challenge to the totalitarian and falsely prophetic claims of all political power, the denunciation of the traps that can enslave the human person, though already vested with the power of the Resurrection, and heading toward the final victory.
(Radio Notre-Dame, April 19, 2015)