Transformation: Week 2
Dying into Life
Tuesday, July 5, 2016
Most of us probably grew up thinking that the Resurrection was a one-time miracle about Jesus, an anomaly that proved he was God. I believe that Jesus is actually naming and revealing what is happening everywhere and all the time in God. Jesus’ resurrection is a statement about how reality works: always moving toward resurrection. As the Catholic funeral preface says, “Life is not ended but merely changed.” This is the divine mystery of transformation, which is entirely evident in the physical universe. This is why I believe in the physical resurrection of Jesus, even if it is a new kind of physicality, which Paul struggles to describe (1 Corinthians 15:35ff).
Resurrection is not a miracle as much as it is an enduring relationship. The best way to speak about the Resurrection is not to say, “Jesus rose from the dead”—as if it was a self-generated miracle—but to say, “Jesus was raised from the dead” (as many early texts state). The Eternal Christ is thus revealed as the map, the blueprint, the promise, the pledge, the guarantee of what is happening everywhere, all summed up in one person so we can see it in personified form.
If you can understand Jesus as the human archetype, a stand-in for everybody and everything, you will get much closer to the Gospel message. I think this is exactly why Jesus usually called himself “The Son of Man.” His resurrection is not so much a miracle that we can argue about, believe, or disbelieve, but an invitation to look deeper at what is always happening in the life process itself. Jesus, or any member of “the Body of Christ,” cannot really die because we are participating in something eternal—the Cosmic Christ that came forth from God.
Death is not just physical dying, but going to the full depth of things, hitting the bottom, beyond where you are in control. And in that sense, we all probably go through many deaths in our lifetime. These deaths to the small self are tipping points, opportunities to choose transformation. Unfortunately, the vast majority of people turn bitter and look for someone to blame. So their death is indeed death for them, because they close down to growth and new life.
But if you do choose to walk through the depths—even the depths of your own sin and mistakes—you will come out the other side, knowing you’ve been taken there by a Source larger than yourself. Surely this is what it means to be saved. Being saved doesn’t mean that you are any better than anyone else. It means you’ve allowed and accepted the mystery of transformation, which is always pure gift.
If we are to speak of miracles, the most miraculous thing of all is that God uses the very thing that would normally destroy you—the tragic, the sorrowful, the painful, the unjust—to transform and enlighten you. Now you are indestructible and there are no absolute dead ends. This is what we mean when we say we are “saved by the death and resurrection of Jesus.” This is not a cosmic transaction, but a human transformation to a much higher level of love and consciousness. You have been plucked from the flames of any would-be death to the soul, and you have become a very different kind of human being in this world. Jesus is indeed saving the world.
Gateway to Silence:
Death to life, sadness to joy
Adapted from Richard Rohr, “Easter Homily: Reality Moves Toward Resurrection,” March 27, 2016, https://cac.org/easter-homily-reality-moves-toward-resurrection/.