The Death and Resurrection of Christ

In the Scripture readings from Romans and Colossians for the Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday Masses, St. Paul proclaims the saving death and resurrection of Christ to the Christians of Rome (Rm 6:3-11) and Colossae (Col 3:1-4). In doing so, he is not saying that Christ raised Himself from the dead as man. For His resurrection is the divine action of the Holy Trinity. Accordingly, the Church teaches that “the Three Divine Persons act together as one” in raising Christ from the dead (CCC 648). In this sense, the Father raises the human nature of the Son by the Spirit (CCC 989). St. Paul calls this Spirit the glory of the Father. Hence, he tells the Romans that “Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father” (Rm 6:4). The source of their salvation is the death and raising of the Son by the Spirit of the Father.

St. Paul also reminds the Christians of Rome and Colossae that they participate in the saving death and resurrection of Christ (Rm 6:4-5, Col 2:12) through their baptism “into Christ” (Rm 6:3). As Christ was raised from the dead by the Spirit of the Father, they also will be raised from the dead by the same Spirit. This participation in the salvation of Christ is increasingly perfected. First, they participate in His dying and rising through the “grace” (Rm 6:14) of the Holy Spirit in baptism. This is the grace of justification that conforms them to the “image” of Christ interiorly (Rm 8:29, Col 3:10). Thus, St. Paul says that they image the Crucified (Rm 6:6, Col 3:3) and Risen Christ (Col 2:12, Rm 6:4). Second, he also says that through this grace, Christians receive the capacity to image Christ virtuously. In doing so, they are conformed to Christ Crucified by crucifying their sinful flesh, including their passions and desires, to the Cross of Christ through virtue (Rm 6:6). Accordingly, they “put to death the evil actions of the body” (Rm 8:13). They become “dead to sin” (Rm 6:11). They become “dead” to their “old self” through virtue (Rm 6:6). As a result, they image the Risen Christ by rising to a virtuous life in the Spirit. This prepares them to be raised by the Spirit of the Father on the last day.

Br. Mariano

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Participating in Christ’s Kenosis

Laudetur Iesus Christus – nunc et in aeternum!
May Jesus Christ be praised – both now and forever!

The reading from St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians is a beautiful theological articulation of the Passion we hear in the Gospel this Palm Sunday. Our Eastern brethren call the downward “movement” of Jesus (vv. 6-8) kenosis, or emptying, divesting of His heavenly glory. This, the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) notes, is diametrically opposed to sin, for sin is “proud self-exaltation” (1850). This pride foolishly tries to obtain the impossible, “to become ‘like gods’” (CCC 1850) without God.

As human beings, St. Paul presents two ways of life to us: participate in Christ’s kenosis by emptying ourselves, be filled with His presence and truly become who God made us to be – “whoever loses His life for my sake will find it (Mt 16:25).” The alternative is to willingly partake in the first sin of our first parents and rebel against God.

On the eve of the final battle, “when the mercy of Christ is about to vanquish [sin], [it] most clearly manifests its violence and its many forms” (CCC 1851). In the account of Our Lord’s suffering and death, His mercy and love descends into the midst of the darkest acts of man: “unbelief, murderous hatred, shunning and mockery… cowardice… cruelty… betrayal… [and] denial” (CCC 1851).

However, the second “movement” in Paul’s letter (vv. 9-11), is the culmination of the kenosis of the Son. In his glorious exaltation, “at the very hour of darkness, the hour of the prince of this world, the sacrifice of Christ secretly becomes the source from which the forgiveness of our sins will pour forth inexhaustibly” (CCC 1851). This bending of the knee shows true conversion from sin: we recognize the depth of God’s love: “Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more” (Rom 5:20).

Br. Thomas More

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