Monday, April 9, 2012

This Joyful Eastertide

The logic of the Cross is much more plain than the logic of the Resurrection. The logic of the Cross is repeated throughout the synoptic Gospels and throughout the letters of St. Paul: if we want to follow Him, we must carry the Cross as He did. If we die with Him, we shall also live with Him. We have been baptized into His death.

The logic of the Resurrection is quite the reverse, as we read in the stunning theological high-water mark of St. Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians. In Chapter 15, St. Paul expounds the necessary connection between Jesus' resurrection and our own. "If the dead are not raised, then Christ is not raised." There is such a cause-and-effect link between Jesus' resurrection and our own that if our resurrection is not possible, then Jesus' resurrection is not true. "And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied."

St. Paul makes an argument ad absurdum, demonstrating that our resurrection is really possible. Otherwise, Christ's never happened--and that is absurd, because it did happen. "But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man."

This passage of 1 Corinthians is the inspiration of one of the many cheerful hymns of the season, sung here in Charles Wood's arrangement, This Joyful Eastertide: Had Christ, that once was slain, ne'er burst his three-day prison, our faith had been in vain;but now hath Christ arisen, arisen, arisen, arisen.