Bright Wednesday (2019)

Bright Wednesday

Christ is risen!  Indeed He is risen!

First of all you must understand this, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own passions and saying, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things have continued as they were from the beginning of creation.”  (2 Peter 3:3-4)

While the resurrection of Christ brings us great joy when we celebrate Pascha, we still face the fact that sin, sickness, suffering and even death are part of our daily experience.   The glory of the resurrection can seem like “pie in the sky” for the resurrection of Christ did not remove us from the reality of the fallen world.  One can wonder, how is the world any different today than it was 2000 years ago before Christ came into the world, exactly as St. Peter reports some scoffers questioned in his own lifetime.  The resurrection is a triumph of God, yet we are still left with questions for which our answers are not satisfactory to many.

In the 4th Century St Macrina, who was teacher to both St Basil and St Gregory of Nyssa, admitted that there are some things which are hidden from us, including what life after death is like or  what the future world will be like.  She felt faith and hope require us not to speculate about things which the Scriptures are pretty silent about.  No matter how convinced some are that they know what happens to the soul after death, she warned against putting much stock in such discussions.  The future will eventually be revealed, and then we will know what things are like – so speculating now is worthless.

  The truth about this is stored up in the hidden treasury of wisdom and will be disclosed at the time when we are taught the mystery of the resurrection in deed, when we will no longer need words to reveal what we hope for. If at night wakeful people discuss at length what the light of the sun is like, the grace of the rays by its mere appearance makes vain the verbal description; in the same way every reasoning which conjectures about the future restoration will be proved worthless when what we expect comes to us in experience. (St. Macrina, from St Gregory of Nyssa’s On the Soul and the Resurrection, p. 24)

The resurrection of Christ has not revealed everything to us, but it has revealed some things, things which we don’t need to speculate about but for which we can give thanks to the Lord.

“But the resurrection has revealed that the modus operandi of God in the salvation of both Israel and the world is to love rather than destroy enemies, to absorb rather than inflict violence.

God loved us while we were enemies, responding to our own violence and other sins, not with the infliction of violence but with the absorption of violence on the cross. A life of nonviolence and reconciliation is therefore an integral part of Paul’s vision of justification and of participatory holiness – theosis.”  (Michael J. Gorman, Inhabiting the Cruciform God, p. 143, 165)

In the Nicene Creed, we are offered little doctrine about life after death, but are given the foundation of our faith:  I look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.