Resurrection defying the arrow of time... (Y-not question the Sunday Readings)
Thanks to all of you for your reflections over the last few days on the meaning of Easter. This morning for my own reflection I had a look at a couple of videos on the Vatican You Tube Channel and I also sat down and watched again the first episode of Professor Brian Cox's BBC series "The Wonders of the Universe". (By the way, I have now added Episodes 2 and 3 of that series to the Catholica Video Channel so you can now watch a total of three hours of the series, 12 clips total. So far I've only watched episode 1 discussing the Arrow of Time but intend to watch the other two episodes after I've written this post.)
It has only been a relatively recent insight for me — say over the last five or ten years — how all of us are imprisoned by time. No matter how wealthy or powerful you attempt to become in life the one thing you cannot buy or acquire more of is time. All of us are only alloted the same 24 hours in each day. Rich or powerful people may seem to be able to acquire more of it by employing others and they might seem to be able to achieve much more in any given 24 hour period — the reality is though that that is a form of illusion. They can't personally "buy more time". Nor can anyone buy or acquire less time if, for any reason, there was some benefit in doing so.
What I have found myself meditating on this Easter is that the Resurrection can in some way be interpreted as a deep human desire to want to escape or defy this "common prison of time". It's almost a primordial desire. We all hanker after "eternal life" somewhere deep down in the bowels of our being in ways we scarcely understand.
Increasingly to me Jesus is not so much this individual, or guru, who lived 2000 years ago. While I am sure there was an individual named Jesus — and who was perceived to be "the Christ", "the Messiah" and "the Son of God" — who roamed around the Middle East 2000 years ago impressing people and who eventually got up the noses of the various authorities of his time and was executed for his trouble, to me increasingly the real importance of the "Jesus figure" is in his emobodiment as "the Body of Christ". He represents all of us. It's not just the man who said, and did, certain things 2000 years ago. What is as important as the historical figure are the words that have been put in his mouth and the interpretations, theological and otherwise, that have been piled on that "skeletal historical figure" that are what are really important. We ARE, as we so constantly say in Christian thinking and liturgy, "the Body of Christ". Increasingly though I do not think of this merely in the sense that we are "a community of believers who worship Jesus the Christ" — we literally are a "living embodiment of Christ". Our thoughts continue to build, even 2000 years after the historical figure died, to build "the resurrected Christ". Christ is the figure who defies the arrow of time. He defies death. He represents our deepest yearning to defy time, and death.
Was the Resurrection actual?
Was the Resurrection actual? it's a question that continues to haunt me. In the final analysis I think it is Mystery — one of the Great Spiritual Mysteries. There will never be a definitive scientific answer to it. (I had to laugh last night at the latest documentary aired on SBS about the Turin Shroud and the endeavours of the "true believers" to ensure the "magic" of the shroud continues to have a good run. They are determined to prove it was definitely the burial shroud of Jesus. I can't say I'm impressed. I honestly don't believe if the shroud was scientifically proven to have actually encased the body of the dead Jesus that that would increase my belief in him, or his significance to human history, or our future. This constant fascination with this burial cloth is basically a "game" being played for the insecure. If it should eventually be "proved" that this burial shroud wrapped Jesus I honestly don't think, given the scientific knowledge humanity is gaining today, that such an event will suddenly "restore belief" or "restore Christianity".)
Deep down in the human psyche I think we all do yearn for "eternal life". We not only yearn to "escape time" — perhaps what is driving it all more is the desire to escape the way time makes our lives seem insignificant or even futile. As James has suggested here in a couple of posts, for most of us we will be lucky if we are "remembered" by much more than two or three generations of our closest relatives. How many of you have much knowledge of who your great, great, great grandparents were? Do you even know even their names? I suspect most people would not be able to tell you the names, places of birth or dates of birth and death of their grandparents even a few generations back. Yet we all desire in some way to "be remembered" or to be "looked up to in positive ways" for the contributions we made to our families, communities or the world. Does anyone desire to be remembered for having wrecked a family, created war, or made the world an unhappier place?
Professor Brian Cox's program (episode 1 at least) leaves some fascinating questions "hanging in the air" as to what happens to the end of time. The ancient theologians and church fathers attempted to provide answers to that question. Jesus himself is reputed to have attempted an answer also. In one sense Brian Cox is correct that at the end of time there is "nothing". The insight of Albert Einstein though suggests that all matter is eventually converted back into "pure energy" under the force of his great equation E=mc^2. Nothing is lost. All matter might be reduced to "nothing we can touch" but the laws of Conservation tell us nothing is ever lost so, at the end of time, will we return to the situation where all that is there is "pure energy" or "an idea" or "the Word" or "Command" that causes the quantum perturbation that turns nothing into something, energy into matter — and the whole cycle begins all over again: our belief in a bodily resurrection is a deeply insightful thing theologically that "we will return" like the legendary General MacArthur?
Enjoy your Easter. We all live at a fascinating and invigorating moment in human, cosmic and theological history!
The images above are taken from the BBC series: "The Wonders of the Universe"
[Editor & Publisher]
- At Easter the rising sun dances, as everybody knows. - Ynot, 2011-04-23, 20:22
- At Easter - Q & A - Roch, 2011-04-24, 04:17
- Roll away your stone, I'll roll away mine. - Oh Yet We Trust, 2011-04-24, 10:00
- Don't let nobody drag your spirit down - TonySee, 2011-04-24, 12:30
- Resurrection defying the arrow of time... - Brian Coyne, 2011-04-24, 14:30
- Don't let nobody drag your spirit down - Oh Yet We Trust, 2011-04-24, 16:01
- At Easter the rising sun dances, as everybody knows. - Macbee, 2011-04-24, 17:42