The Power of the Easter Proclamation

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Little Rock Connections: The Good News for Today
April 2016

The Power of the Easter Proclamation

The Power of the Easter Proclamation

Jerome Kodell, OSB

Some of St. Paul’s writing is so deep and complex that single passages produce volumes of commentary, but he could be direct and blunt when he wanted to. “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is vain; you are still in your sins” (1 Cor 15:17). This is pretty warm language, and it may leave us puzzled: if the resurrection is so important, where does the saving death of Jesus on the cross come in?

We know that Paul was second to no one in his preaching of the saving death of Jesus. Just a few verses earlier, in fact, he had recited his creed to the Corinthians, including the clear statement, “Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures” (15:4). When he says that if Christ has not been raised we are still in our sins, he must be coming at it from a different angle.

He is indeed, and from a very important angle. He is worried that we may not understand that the whole purpose of Jesus’ work of salvation was to give us a share in his own divine life, and this could come only from the gift of the Holy Spirit, described by Eucharistic Prayer IV as “the first fruits for those who believe.”

The prophets looked for the Day of the Lord when the spirit of the Lord would be poured out on all God’s people, not just on prophets and anointed kings, and this hope focused in the Messiah, who would be the spirit-bearer in a way never before seen: “The spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him: a spirit of wisdom and of understanding, a spirit of counsel and strength, a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the LORD” (Isa11:2).

When Jesus came, he fulfilled those hopes, and indeed in a way never seen before, as the bearer of the Holy Spirit. But Jesus could not fulfill the messianic hope of the pouring out of the Spirit with the limitations of his human nature during his public ministry. When he said the Spirit would one day be given like living water, the evangelist John commented: “There was, of course, no Spirit yet, because Jesus had not yet been glorified” (John7:39).

This is where the resurrection comes in, and where death and resurrection are united in one saving act. When Jesus died for us, emptying himself completely, the Holy Spirit flooded his human nature. The blinding light of God’s glory completely penetrated the human weakness that had limited Jesus in his earthly life, and the Holy Spirit began to pour forth from his glorified human body as the source of grace and salvation for all time.

When Paul says “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is vain; you are still in your sins,” he is telling us that without the gift of the Holy Spirit from the resurrected body of Jesus, we would not have divine life, We would be unable to hope of living with God in eternity. But with that hope, as he says to the Romans, “You too must think of yourselves as being dead to sin and living for God in Christ Jesus” (Rom 6:11).


May 22-26, 2016
National Conference for Catechetical Leaders (NCCL)
Jacksonville, FL


Join us June 17-19, 2016. LRSS’ Annual Bible Institute will be held at St. John Catholic Center in Little Rock. Rev. Garrett Galvin, OFM, will address the topic of “The Message of Mercy: The Biblical Roots of Pope Francis’ Teachings.” This will offer a rich opportunity to celebrate the Year of Mercy. Download the brochure here.

A Biblical Year of Mercy

Download a monthly article and reflection questions for free use in your parishes; link to your parish website; send them to friends. Available in English and in Spanish.

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