The Eighth Day: Two Millennia and Counting

Easter is when we celebrate “the crowning truth of our faith in Christ.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 638)

It’s among the top major events so far. Depending on how you count them, there have been only three to six: the creation of this universe; humanity’s creation and fall; and our Lord’s arrival, execution, and resurrection.

There’s another big one coming, eventually: the Last Judgment.1 I take Matthew 24:36, 44; Matthew 25:13; Mark 13:3233 quite seriously, so I don’t try second-guessing God the Father. (December 11, 2016; August 7, 2016)

The idea that the Son of God was human and divine has seemed insufficiently ‘spiritual’ to some folks for two millennia now. But like John 1:14 says,2 “…the Word became flesh….”

The crucifixion, and what happened later, wouldn’t mean much otherwise. (Catechism, 457, 461463)

Cosmic Scale

We’ve known that God’s creation was big and old, and been impressed, for a long time. Over the last few centuries, we’ve learned that it’s immensely bigger and older than we thought.

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the sky proclaims its builder’s craft.”
(Psalms 19:2)

3 Terrible and awesome are you, stronger than the ancient mountains.”
(Psalms 76:5)

3 Raise your eyes to the heavens, and look at the earth below; Though the heavens grow thin like smoke, the earth wears out like a garment and its inhabitants die like flies, My salvation shall remain forever and my justice shall never be dismayed.”
(Isaiah 51:6)

4 Indeed, before you the whole universe is as a grain from a balance, or a drop of morning dew come down upon the earth.”
(Wisdom 11:2225)

Turns out that the “ancient mountains” aren’t all that old. Not on a cosmic scale.

I don’t see a problem with that.

Even if I did; I hope I’d have the sense to figure that God’s God, I’m not, and that my job doesn’t include telling God how the universe should work.

I believe that God is infinite and eternal, almighty and ineffable: beyond our power to describe or understand. (Catechism, 202, 230)

Understanding how this universe works may be another matter, and that’s another topic. (December 9, 2016)

As I see it, what we’re learning about the cosmic scale of this creation is cause for greater admiration of God’s work, and that’s yet another topic. (October 28, 2016; September 23, 2016; July 15, 2016)

Wounded, but Basically Good

I’ve said this before: God doesn’t make junk. The universe is basically good. So are we — basically. (Genesis 1:2627, 31; Catechism, 31, 299)

The first of us — Adam and Eve aren’t German — listened to Satan, ignoring what God had said.

Then Adam tried blaming his wife, and God; which did not end well. (Genesis 3:513)

That happened a very, very long time ago. We’ve been living with the disastrous consequences of their decision ever since. (Catechism, 396412)

But humanity is still made “in the divine image.” (Genesis 1:27)

Loving ourselves, others, and God is a struggle because the harmony we had with ourselves and with the universe is broken. Our nature is wounded: but not corrupted. (Catechism, 355361, 374379, 398, 400, 405, 17011707, 1949)

True God and True Man

About two thousand years ago, our Lord arrived:

“For God so loved the world that he gave 7 his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.

“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn 8 the world, but that the world might be saved through him.”
(John 3:1617)

Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Reactions at the time were mixed.

Shepherds and Magi thought it was good news, Herod didn’t, and that’s yet again another topic. (January 15, 2017)

Like I said earlier, the Word had become Flesh, true God and true man. (John 1:14; Catechism, 456478)

Anguish, Betrayal, Blood, and Death

We reviewed Mathew’s account of our Lord’s final Passover meal last week; and kept reading until Matthew 27:66, where guards sealed Christ’s tomb.

Friday’s Gospel, John 18:119:42, was similarly uncheerful:

1 2 When he had said this, Jesus went out with his disciples across the Kidron valley to where there was a garden, into which he and his disciples entered.”

“So they laid Jesus there because of the Jewish preparation day; for the tomb was close by.”
(John 18:1, 19:42)

All four Gospels agree on what happened next, although the accounts don’t quite match up: by American standards.3

1 2 3 On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb.”
(John 20:1)

Our Lord had stopped being dead. (December 25, 2016; November 27, 2016)

That’s where it gets interesting.

The Eighth Day: Life, Death – – –

Two millennia later, we’re still celebrating.

Pope St. John Paul II called the Resurrection of Jesus “the fundamental event upon which Christian faith rests … the fulcrum of history.”4

Death, physical death, happens: but it is not the end. (Catechism, 1007, 10101014, 1022, 1682)

7 8 But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

9 For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead came also through a human being.

“For just as in Adam all die, so too in Christ shall all be brought to life,”
(1 Corinthians 15:2022)

What happens next depends on whether or not we decide to accept or reject God’s grace. What we’ve done with our life matters, too. (John 14:15; 2 Timothy 1:910; James 2:1419; Catechism, 10211022, 19872016)

What our Lord expects is simple, but not easy.

I should love God, love my neighbor, see everyone as my neighbor, treat others as I want to be treated. (Matthew 7:12, Matthew 22:3640, Mark 12:2831; Matthew 5:4344; Mark 12:2831; Luke 10:2530; Catechism, 1825)

I try to love God and neighbor because I follow the Man who is God.

Jesus died in my place; descended to the abode of the dead; rose from the tomb; and lives today and forever. (Matthew 28:110; Mark 16:111; 1 Peter 4:6; Catechism, 631635, 638655)

By any reasonable standard, that’s a big deal.

– – – and Beyond

We are living in the eighth day of creation: and have been for two millennia. It is a day of life and hope. (Catechism, 349, 1166, 2174)

There’s more to being a Christian than celebrating and waiting for our Lord’s return. I’m expected to live as if loving my neighbors and loving God matter.

Truly respecting the “transcendent dignity” of humanity, and each person, isn’t easy: but it’s something I must do. (Catechism, 1929)

Part of our job is also building a better world for future generations. It starts within each of us, in me, with an ongoing “inner conversion.” (Catechism, 1888, 19281942)

We’ve made some progress: and have a very great deal left to do.

Like I keep saying, my guess is that we’ll still be waiting and working when the 8.2 kiloyear event, Y2K, and Y10K are seen as roughly contemporary. (February 5, 2017; November 27, 2016; October 30, 2016)

But the war is over. We won. We’re already in “the last hour,” and have been for two thousand years. This world’s renewal is in progress, and nothing can stop it. (Matthew 16:18; Mark 16:6; Catechism, 638, 670)

More of my take on the best news ever:

1 Our Lord’s return, and the Final Judgment, will happen: and is the next major event. As for when it’s coming — I have enough on my plate, without trying to outguess God.

(From Wiley Miller’s Non Sequitur, used w/o permission.)

More of my take on Final Judgment and getting a grip:

2 Reading the Bible is a very Catholic thing:

“The Church ‘forcefully and specifically exhorts all the Christian faithful. . . to learn the surpassing knowledge of Jesus Christ, by frequent reading of the divine Scriptures. Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.112
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 133)

It’s literally ‘Catholicism 101:’

3 As I keep saying, Sacred Scripture wasn’t written from a contemporary Western viewpoint:

4 From Pope Saint John Paul II’s “Dies Domini” (Day of the Lord):

“…The Resurrection of Jesus is the fundamental event upon which Christian faith rests (cf. 1 Cor 15:14). It is an astonishing reality, fully grasped in the light of faith, yet historically attested to by those who were privileged to see the Risen Lord. It is a wondrous event which is not only absolutely unique in human history, but which lies at the very heart of the mystery of time. In fact, ‘all time belongs to [Christ] and all the ages’, as the evocative liturgy of the Easter Vigil recalls in preparing the Paschal Candle. Therefore, in commemorating the day of Christ’s Resurrection not just once a year but every Sunday, the Church seeks to indicate to every generation the true fulcrum of history, to which the mystery of the world’s origin and its final destiny leads….”
(“Dies Domini,” Pope Saint John Paul II (Pentecost, May 31, 1998))

More about the Resurrection:

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About Brian H. Gill

I was born in 1951. I'm a husband, father and grandfather. One of the kids graduated from college in December, 2008, and is helping her husband run businesses and raise my granddaughter; another is a cartoonist and artist; #3 daughter is a writer; my son is developing a digital game with #3 and #1 daughters. I'm also a writer and artist.
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