Easter & Resurrection: Hope and Promise in Dark Times

Resurrection is an archetype filled with meaning and promise that can move us beyond fear and doubt, to joyful action and building a “new creation” and a renewed humanity.

A tree stump resurrecting with new growth emerging from it. Image by 19856477 on Pixabay.

Thomas Aquinas speaks of the “first and second resurrection,” and says this about the first: ‘Arise from the dead’ means from dead or destructive actions. Christ ‘will cleanse our conscience from dead works’ (Heb. 9:14). ‘Your dead men and women shall live, the slain shall rise again.’ (Isa. 26:19). Rise therefore ‘and Christ will enlighten you.’

Does this address the many “destructive actions” humanity is engaged in today—from climate change to wars to resuscitating fascism?

Being enlightened, Aquinas is saying, is a kind of resurrection from such death before we die. I think our Buddhist brothers and sisters would agree with that.“ The life of the risen Christ is spread to all humanity in common resurrection.” 

Hope and Joy abound (along with the Via Creativa in the form of hats), at New York City’s annual Easter Parade. Video by Petite New York.

Aquinas says the meaning of the news that “on the third day Christ rose from the dead,” is this: Let us try to rise spiritually from the soul’s death, to that life of justice. ‘Rise, you who sleep, and rise from the dead; and Christ shall enlighten you’ (Eph. 5:14). ‘Blessed and holy is one who has part in the first resurrection’ (Jn. 20:6).

Don’t put it off. Let us not put off rising until our death, but do so now, since Christ arose on the third day: ‘Delay not to be converted to the Lord; and defer it not from day to day’ (Eccles. 5:8). 

Butterflies have long been symbolic of the Resurrected Christ. The Comma, Mourning Cloak, and Orangetip butterflies are among the first to be seen in Spring in the United States. Images by Erik Karitz on Pix a bay.

Christ’s resurrection “was the first in the order of all resurrection” and is meant to be “the cause of ours,” as Paul says: “Christ is risen from the dead, the first fruits of them that sleep.” Resurrection is rising from sleep. 

Now we can “walk in the newness of life” and act “no longer out of fear of death…but out of the love of charity.” The resurrection overcame “the fear of dying, which is the reason human beings for the most part are subject to the slavery of sin.”

Resurrection brings about a kind of new creation….As the psalmist says (104.30): ‘Send forth your spirit, and they will be created, and you will renew the face of the earth.’ Christ’s resurrection “raises our hope.”   

The world is hungry for hope these days. Resurrection brings hope, vision and the courage that goes with it.   

Adapted from Matthew Fox, Sheer Joy: Conversations with Thomas Aquinas on Creation Spirituality, pp. 359-364.

See also Fox, The Tao of Thomas Aquinas, pp. 167-172.

And Fox, Hildegard of Bingen: A Saint For Our Times, pp. xxiii, 14, 103-105.

To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.

Banner Image: “He is not here, he is risen.” The Three Marys at the Sepulchre by Giovanni Battista Gaulli, circa 1685. Wikimedia Commons. 

Queries for Contemplation

Do you agree with Aquinas that fear of dying binds many to “the slavery of sin”? What is your understanding of the meaning of resurrection? How does Aquinas in these passages encourage your insights?

Recommended Reading

Sheer Joy: Conversations with Thomas Aquinas on Creation Spirituality

Matthew Fox renders Thomas Aquinas accessible by interviewing him and thus descholasticizing him.  He also translated many of his works such as Biblical commentaries never before in English (or Italian or German of French).  He  gives Aquinas a forum so that he can be heard in our own time. He presents Thomas Aquinas entirely in his own words, but in a form designed to allow late 20th-century minds and hearts to hear him in a fresh way. 
“The teaching of Aquinas comes through will a fullness and an insight that has never been present in English before and [with] a vital message for the world today.” ~ Fr. Bede Griffiths (Afterword).
Foreword by Rupert Sheldrake

The Tao of Thomas Aquinas: Fierce Wisdom for Hard Times

A stunning spiritual handbook drawn from the substantive teachings of Aquinas’ mystical/prophetic genius, offering a sublime roadmap for spirituality and action.
Foreword by Ilia Delio.
“What a wonderful book!  Only Matt Fox could bring to life the wisdom and brilliance of Aquinas with so much creativity. The Tao of Thomas Aquinas is a masterpiece.”
–Caroline Myss, author of Anatomy of the Spirit

Hildegard of Bingen, A Saint for Our Times: Unleashing Her Power in the 21st Century

Matthew Fox writes in Hildegard of Bingen about this amazing woman and what we can learn from her.
In an era when women were marginalized, Hildegard was an outspoken, controversial figure. Yet so visionary was her insight that she was sought out by kings, popes, abbots, and bishops for advice.
“This book gives strong, sterling, and unvarnished evidence that everything – everything – we ourselves become will affect what women after us may also become….This is a truly marvelous, useful, profound, and creative book.” ~~ Andrew Harvey, author of The Hope: A Guide to Sacred Activism.

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4 thoughts on “Easter & Resurrection: Hope and Promise in Dark Times”

  1. Avatar

    Dear Matthew,
    for your inspiring universalist Easter Meditation.
    It seems quite serendipitous that I recently started rereading my copy of SHEER JOY.
    My marginalia from thirty years ago remains fresh and engaging. Sheer Joy was definitely a ‘breakthrough’ experience for me at that time.
    Your inclusion of Hildegard is the icing on my Easter cake…and a reminder of prophetic justice initiatives which have always been part of our human journey. Ultimately orthodoxy and ideology will be unmasked as closed ‘entropic’ systems that lead to a dead end.

  2. Avatar

    God Bless this Easter Sunday to All our sisters and brothers around the world, especially those suffering war, poverty, injustice, and oppression, including Sacred Mother Earth and all Her living creatures… May CHRIST and the DIVINE SPIRIT of LOVING DIVERSE ONENESS continue birthing, growing, and evolving in our hearts/Souls with one another, and with All Sacred Beings in Our Beautiful multidimensional-multiverse Evolving COSMOS… in the Sacred Process of the ETERNAL PRESENT MOMENT…. Amen

  3. Avatar

    I love the definition of resurrection as waking up from sleep and doing justice. And thank you for the joyful video of the Easter parade, especially the very creative costumes. This shows to me the irrepressible spirit of people and gives hope. I think that fear of death or just fear of anything does enslave us to sin, if sin is defined as separation from God and from our neighbors–which I think is the primary meaning of sin. This separation can lead to the most horrific violence, which we clearly see all around us. It is up to me to maintain that connection with the sacred in order to be at peace and to act justly in the midst of chaos, mayhem, insanity and all the horrors in life.

  4. Avatar

    “When We ‘See’, Then We ‘Do’ ”

    In contemplation we see death and resulting resurrection and become more accepting of it. In life we experientially see the death of our attachments but are not necessarily accepting of those outcomes. ‘The Way’ is always trying to lead us through death to the other side, and that is ‘enlightenment’. Our response and not ‘reaction’ to trials and death then is not this way, not that way, but ‘the Way’ and none other. Suffering for the sake of ‘the Way’, instead of suffering for our own misguided way, becomes the transformative path of purification, leading to an abundant and illuminated ‘Life’. When we ‘see the light’, we then need faith, courage and grace to be able ‘to do’ by following that same ‘light’. — BB.

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