Saturday, April 19, 2014

From death to life

The fact that Christianity has stood firm over the last twenty centuries of human history is due to the confession of faith in Jesus of Nazareth as the Risen One, the Living One, present in the life of Christians.

This is therefore the principal confession of the faith of Christians: “If Christ did not rise from the dead, our faith and our preaching is in vain” (1 Co 15,14). But this confession of faith is sustained by evidence, a historical fact: the life of men and women, followers of Jesus of Nazareth who —following the death of the Nazarene on the cross experienced a transforming reality in their life; they became new men and women (cf Eph 2,18), confessing that the One who died changed their life and, if in fact he changed their life, it was because he rose again and is living!

Such a transformation consists fundamentally in a change of mentality (cf Eph 4,23), of criteria, of logic: a new way of seeing and facing up to reality according to the logic and wisdom of God, and of the gospel of Jesus Christ, which is not the logic of the world (cf James 3,13 and 1 Co 1). They now discover that they are —just as Jesus himself had lived and had taught them— children of God (Gal 4,6) and related to each other as brothers and sisters (1 Jn 3,14). They discover that the old order of things is obsolete: “The old has passed away, the new has come” (2 Co 5,17) and they begin to read and interpret their own life and all reality “in the light” of what happened in the life of Jesus of Nazareth: his passion, his death, his resurrection.

That is to say that the basis of their confession of faith in Jesus as risen again —concretely— is the new life of men and women who bear testimony to the transforming work in them of the One who was crucified (cf Acts 2).

Two thousand years have now passed since that event, the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and every Sunday and every year, in the Christian Easter celebration, Christ’s disciples of all ages and from all corners of the earth, from the most diverse origins and in the molds of the most diverse cultures, continue to confess Christ as the Risen One and present in human history.

This confession of faith is empty if it does not spring from the experience of men and women who —today, as well as yesterday— continue to experience a transformation of their life which urges them to live out the commandment of love, in the recognition that we are brothers and sisters, children of the same Father: “In this we know that we have passed from death to life, in that we love each other” (1 Jn 3,14).

Yet today there are many realities that deny the confession of faith in the resurrection of Christ. For to confess Christ as the Living One is, above all, to confess the triumph of the Father’s designs in the Son (Phil 2,10), contrary to those who preferred to see him dead. It is to confess the truth of abundant life in God (Jn 10,10) over against a thousand forms of death (1 Co 15,55), which —without God, without love— we invent. To confess Christ as the Risen One is to confess that the light overcame the darkness (1 Thess 5,5) and that —from now on— it is possible to build human life and society more in line with God’s will and less according to the caprice of despots.

For that reason, the Christian celebration of Easter is the remembrance of what happened in the life of Jesus and of the first Christians and it is, above all, a commitment. The commitment that every disciple of Christ must show with his life, with his deeds and words, with his behavior and attitudes the abundant life that God offers us in Jesus Christ: “I have come that they might have life, and have it in abundance” (Jn 10,10).

While millions of our brothers in the world live in situations of extreme poverty, indigence and misery; while the conditions of a precarious life and misery that shroud the great majority of humanity lead them to death rather than life; while even a single person goes hungry on earth (cf Acts 2,42 and 4,32), the celebration of Easter calls each believer in Christ to greater authenticity, greater commitment, greater efficacy, greater truthfulness and a greater sense of all that we believe, profess and hope for.

In Christ, God’s final word concerning the destiny of man is not death on the cross or the thousand crosses that exist, but rather life. The resurrection of Christ and our resurrection in him fills our existence with meaning, but also motivates us to build better lives, a better society and a better world in which we can see, live and build, not according to the world’s logic, but according to God’s logic.

Let us then celebrate our Christian Easter: the passing from death to life, from slavery to the law of the fullness of love, but through Christ, with Him and in Him, let us also leave behind convenience, half-heartedness and the routine of our lives and move to the active combat of men and women who —because of the gospel of Christ—struggle to make possible a world in which Christ is truly alive in the life of all and in every social circle: in politics and in the culture, in the academy and in sports, in the arts and in religion, in science and in our labor…

So that today, as in yesteryear, the confession of faith of the Crucified yet Living One might be accompanied and validated by the life of new men and women who build, day by day, a more human world, that is, more fraternal, more equitable, with more solidarity, more justice. Have a HAPPY EASTER!

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