Death and Resurrection

I just finished reading Ewert Cousins’ “Christ of the 21st Century.” Reading the book during Holy Week has me thinking about one of the crucial questions about Christ’s passion and resurrection: do we think that Christ’s passion primarily changes God – or humanity? I was taught the former in the first part of my life … but in recent years, I’ve been thinking more and more about the latter. So this weekend, I’m pondering how Christ’s death speaks of the death of a certain kind of human identity, and then how his resurrection speaks of the (re)birth of another kind of human identity.
Paul said it powerfully in 2 Corinthians 5. If one died for all (as the representative of all, or to bring benefit to all), then all humanity died. And if all humanity died, then we who are alive should live no longer for ourselves, but for the one who died for our benefit and was raised. Thus in Christ, we die to our old, selfish, walled-off, curved-in identity. And in Christ, we rise to a new identity – in joyful union with God, one another, and all creation. Here’s how Cousins talks about it:

“Teilhard’s world contains an attractive force that draws the particles into genuine unions, not merely aggregates like grains of sand in a heap. Thus the particles do not remain forever in splendid isolation, nor do they eternally repel each other, nor enter into superficial unions. Rather they are drawn into ever more intimate and creative unions: from the atom to the molecule, to the cell, to the living organism, to the human person, to the human community, to the completion of union … In the various stages of union, the individual elements do not melt into the whole like drops of water in the sea. At each stage of the way the union of elements is a Trinitarian union… at the end of the process is a union in which the particles retain their identity; in fact their uniqueness is intensified in the union at the same time they are brought together in a most intimate and creative way.” (179)