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CHRISTIANITY
from issue no. 03 - 2009

The Resurrection of Jesus: infinite freedom of Love


A meditation of His Holiness Bartholomew I, Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, on the occasion of Holy Easter


by Bartholomew I, Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople


Bartholomew I, Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople [© Associated Press/LaPresse]

Bartholomew I, Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople [© Associated Press/LaPresse]

The Church celebrates, professes and proclaims that Christ died and rose from the dead and that His Resurrection has eliminated death for all men.
How realistic is this promise and hope of the Church? Can human language give it a foundation in knowledge based on experience, on a logic, that is, which allows us to convey human experience without fantasizing in imaginary ideologies?
Over the centuries, the Church has adopted an extremely empirical and, therefore, logically coherent, realistic language. A language that testifies to all that it knows of the tangible and evident: “What we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked upon and touched with our hands” (1Jn 1, 1).
“In the person of Jesus Christ”, therefore, the Church touches the real infinite freedom of God: God free from any predetermination of His existence, from any necessity of being what He is. God, the Greeks would say, is free in regard to His own Divinity, His own divine nature or essence: therefore He becomes man, becomes incarnate without ceasing to be God. Further, even though become man, He remains free from the limits of human nature. Thus He rises from the dead.
The Greeks introduced logical articulation into human History, certainty in the use of the language, as priority condition for empirical affirmation. Nevertheless for the Greeks empirical affirmation constituted the personal pathway of individual access to the logical evidence commonly admitted by the world. And this evidence persuaded by the fact that all existent reality is predetermined by the logos-mode, inexplicably given, of its participation in reality, that is, by its essence or nature. Even God cannot be something other than what is determined by the logos-mode of Divinity. It is necessary that God be the Prime Mover, spiritual nature that acts of itself, “most venerable genus”, infinite, timeless.
If, however, the source and the cause of reality is predetermined by necessity, then there is no longer any possibility of real freedom, of creation ex nihilo, any chance of the unexpected, of diversity, of History. So also any existence that is not divine must inevitably be subject to the predeterminations of space, of time, of corruption, of death.
The historical person of Christ is the certainty of the Church, a certainty founded on experience, that the existence of God, cause and source of Being, knows no limitations: no reason, imposition or convenience can predetermine it. God is not forced to be what He is. He exists because He freely wants to exist. He fulfills in reality His desire to exist by “generating” the Son and “making” the Spirit “proceed in a timeless and loving manner”. God exists in the modality of absolute real freedom that is love, He exists in the mode of love, He exists because He loves.
<I>Jesus rises from hell</I>,  12 th century fresco, Karanlik Kilise, Göreme, Cappadocia, Turkey

Jesus rises from hell, 12 th century fresco, Karanlik Kilise, Göreme, Cappadocia, Turkey

Love is not a moral property of God, it is His modus existendi: “God is love” (Jn 4, 16). It is not monad-entity endowed with divine properties (existence in itself, omnipotence, wisdom, timelessness). It is hypostatic love: it is a trinity of hypostasis that hypostatizes Being in concrete existences as a relation that transcends individuality: as love. The names of the three hypostases do not designate individualities but relations: Father, Son, Spirit.
The Son and Logos becomes man by implementing the shared will, or the love of the Trinity. With His incarnation the Logos reveals the possibility with which human nature created “in the image of God” is endowed: that is of existing according to the mode of existence of the uncreated God – existing as freedom of love. His life (“He lived doing good and healing”) and His death on the Cross “have shown us His love toward us”, opened the way/possibility of immortality/deification of man. Christ risen from the dead has become the principle of the resurrection of man from the necessity of death.
Our nature is mortal, liberation from death is grace/gift of God’s love. The acceptance of the gift is a gesture of freedom, it is love that actively corresponds to the love of our Bridegroom/Lover Christ.


(Thanks to Nikos Tzoitis for his friendly collaboration)


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