Saturday 4 April 2015

Salvation: what does that mean?

Every now and then I ask myself, What does salvation mean, what does being redeemed mean, and I usually go back to Lonergan's wonderful essay, "The Redemption." This year instead I asked a young Lonergan scholar, Mark T. Miller, who sent me a wonderful one page summary that he shares with his students. The life and death of Jesus are not so much the price paid for us; they are the revelation of God's love. And love cannot force without ceasing to be love. Freedom, as Azzopardi taught us all those years ago, is constitutive of love: no freedom, no love. So as Benedict XVI puts it: God is a beggar before my heart. Salvation is not automatic; it is not magic. It is love calling to love. And I am called to say Yes.
But love, when it is divine love, has a thousand ways at its disposal. The little strip of our freedom is ours, but above and below, right and left, all that ground is in God's hands. Like this morning, quite by chance, I discovered that I have a little book of Francesco Rossi de Gasperis, E' risorto, non è qui - a commentary on the resurrection scenes, wonderful, just the thing I needed, just what I was looking for.
And in the first chapter, the very first chapter, on Mk 16:1-8, "The Gospel of the Empty Tomb," a wonderful reflection. "Behold the place where they laid him." (Mk 16:6) An echo of the earliest Christian liturgies in Jerusalem, with people going to the Tomb? Perhaps. But what struck me is Rossi de Gasperis' reflection on the empty tomb itself. To rise is to leave nothing behind, to leave an empty tomb. And you can do that if you have lived all your life in love. Jesus lived all his life in love: “The tomb of Jesus is empty because his whole body, his whole earthly historical reality, his words, deeds, friendships, suffering, thoughts, everything was resurrected because everything had been lived in love.” To rise with him means to leave nothing behind, to live in such a way that everything has been lived in love, even my sinfulness, my selfishness, all transformed into love, like Peter who transforms his denials into love.

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