A few thoughts of Pope Benedict on the meaning of the Resurrection:

Until that moment Christ’s death remained almost an enigma, whose outcome was still uncertain. In the Pascal mystery the words of Scripture are fulfilled, that is, this death realized “according to the Scriptures” is an event that carries a “logos” in itself, a logic: Christ’s death testifies that the Word of God became human “flesh,” human “history,” without reserve. How and why this happened, we understand from the other addition Paul makes: Christ died “for our sins.” With these words the Pauline text takes up the prophecy of Isaiah contained in the fourth song of the Servant of God (cf. Isaiah 53:12). The Servant of God — the song says — “surrendered himself to death,” bore “the sins of the world,” and interceding for the “guilty” was able to bring the gift of reconciliation among men and between men and God: his is a death therefore that puts an end to death; the way of the cross leads to the resurrection.

In the verses that follow, the Apostle pauses over the Lord’s resurrection. He says that Christ “rose on the third day according to the Scriptures.” Again: “according to the Scriptures!” Not a few exegetes see in the expression “[he] rose on the third day according to the Scriptures” a significant reference to Psalm 16, where the Psalmist proclaims: “You will not abandon me in the netherworld, nor let his faithful one undergo corruption” (16:10). This is one of the texts of the Old Testament that was cited by early Christians to prove Jesus’ messianic character. Since, according to the understanding of Judaism, corruption began after the third day, the word of Scripture is fulfilled in Jesus who rises on the third day, that is, before corruption set in. St. Paul, faithfully transmitting the doctrine of the Apostles, stresses that the victory of Christ over death happens through the creative power of God’s Word. This divine power brings hope and joy: this is the definitive liberating content of the Easter revelation. God reveals himself and the power of the trinitarian love that annihilates the destructive forces of evil and death in the events of Easter.

And with humble confidence let us pray: “Jesus, who, rising from the dead, anticipated our resurrection, we believe in you!”

April 19, 2009