Resurrection: A Superabundant measure

“The truth of Christ’s Resurrection is the original fact
upon which Christian faith is based (cf. 1 Cor 15:14), an event set at
the centre of the mystery of time
, prefiguring the last day when Christ will
return in glory.”  Novo millennia inuente §35

The Christian faith rests upon a fact, not a doctrine. It is the fact of the resurrection, witnessed by the apostles. Georges Chevrot wrote: “The apostles did not say to the world: ‘Hear the Gospel, for there is no more beautiful doctrine . . .’ No, they did not preach a doctrine because it seemed true to them. They preached a fact of which they were certain. A doctrine may be disputed, a fact is indisputable.” (On the Third Day, p. 14) Christ at the center of history — a fact — this perspective keeps Christianity from wandering off into gnosticism and imaginative dreams. Yet many wish to shove Christianity off into the realm of private opinion or to nothing more than a gnostic scheme. That is why Pope John Paul II proclaimed: “it is impossible to separate Christ from human history.” He preached this to the communists and he warned the west not to cut the roots of culture. We must continue to struggle against the secularist reductions, as well the new reformers of Catholic education who similarly relegate the faith to just one more side option on the way to a pre-professional degree. John Paul II explained that the resurrection, the historic fact, is the measure God introduced into history. The historic fact should stand at the center of our consciousness, at the center of the curriculum. Consider these passages from :

“The limit imposed upon evil by divine good has entered human history, especially the history of Europe, through the work of Christ. So it is impossible to separate Christ from human history. This is exactly what I said during my first visit to Poland, in Victory Square, Warsaw. I stated then that it was impossible to separate Christ from my country’s history. Is it possible to separate him from any other country’s history? Is it possible to separate him from the history of Europe? Only in him, in fact, can all nations and all humanity ‘cross the threshold of hope’!” Memory and Identity, chapter 3

“The Resurrection of Christ clearly illustrates that only the measure of good introduced by God into history through the mystery of Redemption is sufficient to correspond fully to the truth of the human being. The Paschal mystery  thus becomes the defining measure of man’s existence in the world created by God. In this mystery, not only is eschatological truth revealed to us, that is to say, the fullness of the Gospel, or Good News. There also shines forth a light to enlighten the whole of human existence in its temporal dimension and this light is then reflected onto the created world. Christ, through his resurrection, has so to speak ‘justified’ the work of create, and especially the creation of man. He has ‘justified’ it in the sense that he has revealed the ‘just measure’ of good intended by God at the beginning of human history. This measure is not merely what was provided by him in creation and then compromised by man through sin; it is a superabundant measure, in which the original plan finds a higher realization (cf. Gn 3:14-15). In Christ, man is called to a new life, as son in the Son, the perfect expression of God’s glory. In the words of Saint Ireneus, gloria Dei vivens homo— the glory of God is man fully alive.” Memory and Identity, chapter 5

Blessed John Paul II often referred to Acts 17:22-31, St Paul at the Athenian Areopagus, as a model for the new evangelization. Recall that the Greeks would listen his pitch about Christ as the unknown God until he proclaimed the resurrection. When they heard that they laughed and walked away. The resurrection of Christ would have challenged their polytheism, as it does our pluralism today. No one has risen from the dead, but the true son of God, Jesus Christ. A few did believe, including Dionysius the Areopagite:

The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all men everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all men by raising him from the dead.” Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked; but others said, “We will hear you again about this.” So Paul went out from among them. But some men joined him and believed, among them Dionys’ius the Are-op’agite and a woman named Dam’aris and others with them.

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