Pope: Resurrection, "explosion of love", concerns each one of us
In the "vigil of vigils", Benedict XVI highlighted the relationship between resurrection and baptism, likewise rebirth, in his homily, as well as the bond with divine love that leads to eternal life.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) The resurrection was like "an explosion of light", "a cosmic event involving heaven and earth and links them together". But above all, it was "an explosion of love which dissolved the hitherto indissoluble compenetration of 'dying and becoming'", and it touched each of the disciples personally. Through faith and baptism, in fact, we are all tied to "that" resurrection that leads to "evolution" and transformation to new life that makes us "cling" to Jesus, making us "I, but no longer I", united with God and others. And "if we live in this way, we will transform the world. It is a formula contrary to all ideologies of violence, it is a programme opposed to corruption and to the desire for power and possession."
Resurrection and baptism, eternity and love, were the themes tackled by Benedict XVI in his long homily for what was probably the most striking liturgy of the whole year. The "vigil of vigils" started at 10pm in the atrium of St Peter's Basilica with the blessing of fire and water, preparation and lighting of the Paschal candle.
In darkness, worshippers in the basilica passed the flame to each other. When the procession was proceeding towards the altar with the Paschal candle and the singing of the Exultet, the light exploded.
During the long rite, seven catechumens were baptized by Benedict XVI; according to ancient tradition, this rite is administered on the night of Easter.
The Pope-theologian, who dedicated his first encyclical to divine love, highlighted the relationship between the resurrection and baptism, likewise rebirth, in his homily, as well as the bond with divine love that leads to eternal life.
The resurrection "ushered in a new dimension of being, a new dimension of life in which, in a transformed way, matter too was integrated and through which a new world emerges. It is clear that this event is not just some miracle from the past, the occurrence of which could be ultimately a matter of indifference to us. It is a qualitative leap in the history of 'evolution' and of life in general towards a new future life, towards a new world which, starting from Christ, already continuously permeates this world of ours, transforms it and draws it to itself."
For men, this "draw" happens with Baptism, which is why this rite is administered during the Easter vigil. "Baptism means precisely this, that we are not dealing with an event in the past, but that a qualitative leap in world history comes to me, seizing hold of me in order to draw me on." To clarify the concept, Benedict XVI quoted the conclusion of the Letter to the Galatians, in which Paul wrote: "It is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me." (Gal 2:20). "I live, but I am no longer I. The 'I', the essential identity of man - of this man, Paul - has been changed. He still exists, and he no longer exists. He has passed through a 'not' and he now finds himself continually in this 'not': I, but no longer I."
"This phrase is an expression of what happened at Baptism. My 'I' is taken away from me and is incorporated into a new and greater subject. This means that my 'I' is back again, but now transformed, broken up, opened through incorporation into the other, in whom it acquires its new breadth of existence."
"You have become one in Christ," says Paul. "Not just one thing, but one, one only, one single new subject."
"This is the joy of the Easter Vigil. The Resurrection is not a thing of the past, the Resurrection has reached us and seized us. We grasp hold of it, we grasp hold of the risen Lord, and we know that he holds us firmly even when our hands grow weak. We grasp hold of his hand, and thus we also hold on to one another's hands, and we become one single subject, not just one thing. I, but no longer I: this is the formula of Christian life rooted in Baptism, the formula of the Resurrection within time. I, but no longer I: if we live in this way, we transform the world. It is a formula contrary to all ideologies of violence, it is a programme opposed to corruption and to the desire for power and possession."
And in that "I, but no longer I", Benedict XVI explained eternity. "We will live through our existential communion with him, through being taken up into him who is life itself. Eternal life, blessed immortality, we have not by ourselves or in ourselves, but through a relation - through existential communion with him who is Truth and Love and is therefore eternal: God himself. Simple indestructibility of the soul by itself could not give meaning to eternal life, it could not make it a true life. Life comes to us from being loved by him who is Life; it comes to us from living-with and loving-with him. I, but no longer I: this is the way of the Cross, the way that "crosses over" a life simply closed in on the I, thereby opening up the road towards true and lasting joy."