Newman NotesThe Paschal Mystery - Our Central Creed
Rev. Jaehwa J. Lee
Bryn Mawr College- 104 Aelwyd on Cambrian Row
Haverford College - 208 Whitehead Campus Center
Swarthmore College - Bond Hall - 20
What the Church celebrates each year in the pre-historical orbit of the Spring equinox - which ancient peoples, most notably Israel herself, adopted as the launching of a new cycle of life - is the passover (in Greek: the pascha) of Jesus the Christ from life and ministry in this world to glory in resurrected, eternal life at the 'right hand' of God his Father; a pascha into which each of us who accepts the call to share his very life also experience a meta-morphosis to glory when the fullness of Christ's kingdom marks the end of time and of the universe itself.
God - who plays no dice game and in whom everything has purpose and meaning - has elected out of love for humanity who share his nature more perfectly than anything else in created existence, to become 'worthy' of a reciprocal love from us not, as our brothers and sisters of old imagined, out of fear to do otherwise, but by the very laying down of a human life in proof of the love he bears us. Such a pledge cannot be done through a surrogate. No one giving life to the full on behalf of God would earn the desired response. Some things One must do oneself: and love is at the head of the list. This is the fundamental reason for an Incarnation, for God becoming human.
The course of that human life, marked by a ministry of reconciliation - the proclamation of the 'good news' of a God anxious to reconcile; the virtual eradication of every species of disease and disability [long identified with God's 'getting even' with a sinner]; the tender embrace of the worst among us as the very sort for whom a parent-God would keep endless vigil - could lead in one direction only: sacrificial death. A death of an innocent that, giving voice to the one response for countless blessings, for life itself, that this Father longs to hear: Your will be done! Even in this - in pain and rejection and injustice and fear and blood - Your will be done!
That, having been said in word and in deed, releases the final torrent of exaltation and bounty beyond imagination: resurrected life. Life without limitation, without end, without negation, without sin. And all of this, not only for that only begotten Son, but for all who come to live in Him - vine to branch, flesh of flesh, spirit of spirit.
Beyond the vision prompting glory and praise for the Christ, there is the personal reference that comes into focus again and again, no matter how humble, or unworthy, or earthbound in life's day-by-day routine we must be: what about me! Where does my life end up? What is my destiny if I lower my defenses and allow the embrace of Father and Son to include me? The response is an actual participation in the life of the Trinity - an indwelling of God in my very being: the Gift of the Holy Spirit. As the liturgy says in one place: to taste on earth, the gifts of the world to come.
This is what Lent prepares us to renew and Easter; what draws our line of sight beyond even an empty tomb at Easter to the clouds of heaven and the throne of God at Ascension; what give us, in a Pentecost hope and joy and victory even now over all within us and around us that is not of God.
This is not a reality that can be realized and comprehended all at once. We are in a cycle, an upward spiral that comes back upon itself again and again, each time more intense, each time closer to an End that is a Beginning-without-End. This is Christianity. This is the Faith of the Church.