Last Updated:Friday - 09/24/2010
April 2, 2007
Easter brings hope for baptized humanity
Easter is the biggest challenge to a secularized world. Christ's resurrection from the dead is not an act of magic with no consequences. It offers humanity – and each human person – fullness of life. It offers each person the opportunity to share in Christ's divine mission of salvation. It offers each of us a share in divinity itself by becoming God's adopted children through Baptism.
But fullness of life is not automatic. It involves a choice. Sometimes the choice is "No, I do not want to follow this path. It threatens my autonomy. It crimps my style."
If one follows through on that choice in a consistent fashion, one arrives at the resurrection and says, "No, this did not happen. The story is made up. Jesus' followers stole the body. Or, Jesus escaped, married Mary Magdalene, fathered children and died a natural death." And then the hunt for Jesus' earthly remains begins.
Without Christ's resurrection, what hope is there for humanity? We live our 70 or 80 years, die and our remains are put into the ground. That's the end of it. If that is the end of it, why should we be bothered with morality? Why should we consider the needs of others except for some advantage they may give us? Why should we love?
For the pure secularist, love is the greatest folly. It imputes to the other a depth, a dignity, a stretching-forward beyond the material that cannot be if there is no resurrection. Love is a sham. I had better just look out for number one.
Oh, those Christians! Listen to what their leader Jesus said: "Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect." They are so self-righteous. How can anyone have the audacity to claim to be perfect?
Indeed, it is an audacious claim, one that none of us fulfill. But Jesus does admit the impossibility and point us toward perfection. "For men, this is impossible; but everything is possible for God" (Matthew 19:26).
God comes to us through the sacraments, first of all through Baptism. Baptism is not simply the negative sacrament of washing away of sins; it is the sacrament of salvation through which we are incorporated into Christ. We are made one with him. Really, truly one.
Just as Jesus is the Son of the Father, so we become adopted children of the Father. We are not merely human, but divine too.
This surely is the most audacious claim. It does not mean we are perfect now. We stumble, we fall and, if we admit our fall, we are picked up. But we have entered into a fullness of life that outstrips human imagination.
It began with the Incarnation. Christ deigned to accept our humanity. His bending low was for one purpose – to raise us up. At every Mass, this is proclaimed when the priest prays during the Preparation of the Gifts, "By the mystery of this water and wine may we come to share in the divinity of Christ, who humbled himself to share in our humanity."
Our role is to let God work in us. Through Baptism, we become priests, prophets and kings. As priests, we make our whole lives – work, prayer, family life, hobbies and relaxation – spiritual sacrifices that we bring to the altar. As prophets, our words and example bear witness to the Good News. Through our kingly role, we strive to make all of life and creation reflect the goodness of God.
This is not reserved for a spiritual elite. It is God's power working through us through Baptism. If we let it. If we commit ourselves to that power.
At Easter, there is hope for humanity. In Baptism, we are baptized into Christ's death so that we too might walk in newness of life. The old self of slavery to sin was crucified with him. In its place, we rise with Christ to a fullness of life that makes eternity real here today. It is a fullness of life that reveals the purely secular outlook for the shrivelled up, impoverished view of humanity that it is.
- Glen Argan
Copyright © 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 -- Western Catholic Reporter
Our mission: To serve our readers by bringing the Gospel to bear on current issues in the Church and in secular culture through accurate news coverage and reflective commentary.