Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Andrew M. Greenwell, Esq.

4/24/2012 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again

The Good News of Easter is that the puzzle which Plato and Cicero struggled to solve is resolved for us, in fact has been revealed to us.  Not, however, by myth, and not by dream.  But by a brute historical reality that happened once in history, but which Catholics repeat anew at every Mass, and which Christ's faithful announce at the Memorial Acclamation:  Christ has died.  Christ is risen.  Christ will come again.

Highlights

By Andrew M. Greenwell, Esq.

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

4/24/2012 (2 years ago)

Published in Living Faith

Keywords: Justice, resurrection, Pope Benedict, death to life, Andrew M Greenwell


CORPUS CHRISTI, TX (Catholic Online) - Men and women of good will naturally thirst for justice.  Justice requires that the good and the evil receive their just deserts without exception. And it is simply undeniable that in this world this does not happen.  Our thirst for justice is not slaked in this world. 

Even in our daily lives we suffer, or perhaps are the cause of, more or less petty or more or less serious injustices that frequently go unfixed.  Adultery, rape, murder, abortion, theft, fraud, and on and on.  These present an insurmountable enough problem.  But if we turn to the massive injustices within our historical memory, especially if we concretize them, the problem is infinitely insurmountable.  We approach the threshold of despair.

Who shall give justice to Moses Roper, the mulatto slave who was traded from master to master seventeen times, was nearly flogged to death with 200 lashes of the whip, but eventually escaped to write his autobiography?  And what about all the other victims of the African slave trade?

Who shall give justice to Sadako Sasaki, the two-year old who was blown out of the window of her home, exposed to radiation in Hiroshima, miraculously survived, only to die of leukemia ten years later?  And what about the 50,000 or so of her fellow townspeople who suffered death moments after the "Little Boy" was dropped out of the hatch of the Enola Gay? 

Who shall give justice to my great great uncle Ludwig Brügel, a historian known for his book Geschichte der österreichischen sozialdemokratie, who died in the Concentration Camp at Theresienstadt on August 30, 1942, for the mere reason-which is no reason-that he was a Jew?  And what about all numerous millions of fellow victims of Hitler's inhuman Shoa, Jewish and non-Jewish?

Who shall give justice to-to pick a name at random-Brandon Buchanan, a young equities trader at Cantor Fitzgerald, who died at the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001, the victim of a few Muslim barbarians with Allahu Akbar on the brain?

Even if it were possible to give justice to these individuals and the hundreds of millions like them in the history of man, from whom would we exact it?  Who could pay the debt?  Upon whom could it rightly be imposed?

In the light of uncorrected and uncorrectable injustice, and man's intrinsic thirst for justice, many ask the question of whether the world is well-made.  A world full of injustice would seem not well-made. 

Some therefore accuse God of injustice in making the world.  Or they deny God exists.  In either event, the matter becomes an irresolvable surd.  If the world is not well-made by God, if God is unjust, or if God does not exist, then we have no reason to complain of injustice, and the desire for justice is vain.  Without a just God, all is vanity, which is to say all is absurd.  Then shut yourself in your house and read Camus or Sartre, and end your miserable life by putting a bullet through your brain if you are man enough.

But if we resist the false lull of absurdity which leads to despair, we shall have to come to terms that there must be justice if the world is well-made by God, which means there must be just judgment.  And we come to the quandary that in this world this just judgment is nowhere to be found.

Those who have believed in a benevolent God--Pagans included--have resisted absurdity and cannot believe the world was not well-made.  In the face of injustice in this world, they have yearned for, dreamed of, guessed at, even hoped for a life beyond this one, and a just judgment in that life beyond this one as the most plausible answer. 

Moved by this quandary--belief in a world-well-made with the fact of plenty of injustice--Plato ends his dialogue The Republic with the "Myth of Er."  In explaining justice, the protagonist Socrates ultimately has recourse to myth.  He tells his interlocutor Glaucon about the testimony of a soldier named Er, son of Armenios of Pamphyilia.  Er, he relates, died in battle with a number of his fellows, and these bodies were gathered ten days later to be burned in a funeral pyre. 

Er revives from his death, and tells the survivors of his journey to the afterlife.  He tells them that there are judges in the afterlife who issue just judgment.  The just carry their good deeds in front of them and take the rightward path to heaven.  The unjust carry their wrongdoing like burdens on their back as they are made to walk the leftward path into the netherworld, to a sort of purgatory.  The good done on earth is repaid ten-fold, and the evil punished ten-fold.  And there are some evildoers--such as the tyrant Ardiaeus the Great--who are incurable, and for whom heaven is forever foreclosed.  They are damned.

Belief in this myth, Socrates says, allows us to "hold fast ever to the heavenly way and follow after justice and virtue always, considering that the soul is immortal."  (Republic 621d)  Eternal life and judgment must be created--even if it be in myth--for the world to have been well-made and our thirst for justice quenched.

In his version of Plato's Republic, Cicero concludes with his own "Myth of Er," the so-called "Dream of Scipio."  Here, Cicero describes the dream of the Roman general Scipio Aemilianus.  He is visited by his dead adoptive grandfather, Scipio Africanus, who comes to him from heaven as in a vision or dream.  The younger Scipio is enjoined to do justice.  It is the life of justice that leads to heaven, the heaven from whence the elder Scipio comes, a heaven as resplendent as the beauty of the Milky Way.  Life on earth is fleeting, the elder Scipio reminds the younger, but we are promised a life hereafter.  Before he wakes up, the younger Scipio is admonished to contemplate the heavens and eternal life so that he may act rightly on earth.

Again, eternal life and judgment must be dreamed--even if it be in specters and visions--for the world to have been well-made and for our yearning for justice to be met.

The Good News of Easter is that the puzzle which Plato and Cicero struggled to solve is resolved for us, in fact has been revealed to us.

Not, however, by myth, and not by dream.  But by a brute historical reality that happened once in history, but which Catholics repeat anew at every Mass, and which the Christ's faithful announce at the Memorial Acclamation:  Christ has died.  Christ is risen.  Christ will come again.

"The justice of God," St. Paul tells the Romans, "has been manifested through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe."  (Rom. 3:21-22).  Christ is God's justice.  This Christ, who is God's justice, we say will come again.  When Christ comes again, it will be to judge the living and the dead, scriptural words which we repeat in our Creed.  (cf. 2 Tim. 4:1)  It is also our belief that when Our Lord returns to judge in the Last Judgment, our bodies shall rise again, like Christ the firsfruits, rose from the grave.  (1 Cor. 15:23)

This means that Moses Roper, Sadako Sasaki, Ludwig Brügel, Brandon Buchanan, and all those who did them wrong will rise again.  And all will be judged in the Judgment, a judgment required so "that the providence of God, which, on earth often permits the good to suffer and the wicked to prosper, may in the end appear just before all men," as the Baltimore Catechism succinctly explains.

Here we get to Benedict XVI's "dream."  In Jesus we learn that "there is a God, and God can create justice in a way that we cannot conceive, yet we can begin to grasp it through faith," writes Pope Benedict XVI in his encyclical Spe salvi.  "Yes," he continues, "there is a resurrection of the flesh.  There is justice.  There is an 'undoing' of past suffering, a reparation that sets things aright."  (Spe salvi, 43)

Injustice does not have the last word.  Justice has the last word.  "God is justice and creates justice. This is our consolation and our hope. And in his justice there is also grace. This we know by turning our gaze to the crucified and risen Christ."  (Spe salvi, 43, 44)

The reality of the revelation--proof that it is not a myth and not a dream--is confirmed for us in the historical fact of Christ's Resurrection: Christ's empty tomb. 

"He is not here; he has risen, just as he said."  (Matt. 28:6)

That is why in his encyclical Spe salvi Benedict XVI tells those who yearn for justice but see it unfulfilled in this world, and who do not know Christ the following personal words.  He speaks not here not so much as Pope, but as a man to men without faith, without hope, but who yearn for justice.  "I am convinced," Pope Benedict XVI says, "that the question of justice constitutes the essential argument, or in any case the strongest argument, in favor of faith in eternal life." 

Here is Pope Benedict XVI's "Dream."  There is, the Pope says, a "purely individual need for a fulfillment," a need for justice "that is denied to us in this life."  It was denied to Moses Roper, to Sadako Sasaki, to Ludwig Brügel, to Brandon Buchanan, to hundreds of millions more.  Nothing they could do, nothing we can do, can give them justice.  But it is impossible "that the injustice of history should be the final word."  The natural desire for justice is not put in us in vain, and "to protest against God in the name of justice is not helpful," since it brings us to absurdity.  (Spe salvi, 44.)  Given that we must regard it impossible that the world is not well-made by God, it is both necessary and convincing, in light of Christ's historical Resurrection, therefore, that Christ must return and that we will rise again "for a new life," and that there be a Final Judgment. (Spe salvi, 43.)

As Pope Benedict XVI explained to the parish priests and clergy of Rome on February 7, 2008, in his encyclical Spe salvi he tied the Last Judgment to mankind's thirst for justice.  "We all want a just world.  Yet we cannot atone for all the destruction of the past, all the people unjustly tortured and killed.  God alone can create justice, which must be justice for all, even for the dead, and . . . only the resurrection of the body . . .  would be able to create justice."

The resurrection of the body is required so that the acts of injustice done to Moses Roper, to Sadako Sasaki, to Ludwig Brügel, and to Brandon Buchanan in the flesh be recompensed in the flesh, and so that those who in the flesh perpetrated the acts of injustice on Moses Roper, on Sadako Sasaki, on Ludwig Brügel, and on Brandon Buchanan get their just punishments in the flesh.

We must not deprecate the reality of injustice, of sin, of punishment since "both justice and true guilt exist."  "Those who have destroyed man and the earth," the Pope continues "cannot suddenly sit down at God's table together with their victims." 

Moses Roper cannot be seen to sit down with John Gooch who nearly flogged him to death, Sadako Sasaki cannot be seen to sit down with Giv 'em Hell Harry who ordered the bombing of Hiroshima, my great great uncle Ludwig Brügel cannot be seen to sit down with Adolf Hitler, Brandon Buchanan cannot be seen to sit down with Mohamed Atta, as if nothing happened.

That is not how it works.  Yet we must remember that "God creates justice," as Benedict XVI told his priests. 

Benedict XVI observed that there are that have been among us, the numbers of which we do not know--though we may hope they are not numerous, and yet we may fear that they are many--that "have destroyed themselves," and who therefore "are forever unredeemable, who no longer possess any elements on which God's love can rest, who longer have a minimal capacity for loving."  These died outside of God's grace.  "This," the Pope explains, "is Hell."  Whether John Gooch, Harry Truman, Adolf Hitler, or Mohamed Atta is there we do not know, though we may have our hunches.

There are a few that "are so pure that they can enter immediately into God's communion."  These include the canonized saints--the Blessed Virgin Mary at the apex--with all the "all saints" we celebrate on All Saints' Day.

Most of us mortals who die in God's grace, however, lie between the two extremes--between the holy and the forlorn, between the fully saved and the fully unsaved, between the immaculate Mary and Judas Iscariot, for whom it would have been better had he not been born.  (Matt. 26:23)  For those between the extremes, "there are so very many wounds" that have to heal.  There is "so much filth" that needs to be cleaned.  Most of us "need to be prepared, to be purified." 

All these wounds must heal, the filth cleaned, the purification done before the lamb lies down with the wolf, and the leopard lies down with the kid.  (Cf. Isaiah 11:6)  Justice requires it.

"This is our hope: even with so much dirt in our souls, in the end the Lord will give us the possibility, he will wash us at last with his goodness that comes from his Cross."  This is Purgatory.  "In this way" Benedict XVI states, God "makes us capable of being for him in eternity.  And thus Heaven is hope, it is justice brought about at last."

Christ has died.  Christ is risen.  Christ will come again in the Last Judgment, and there will be Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory.  This formula solves the puzzle of apparent injustice in a world we regard as well-made. 

The God-Man Jesus is the "Myth of Er," the "Dream of Scipio" become flesh.  The Lord Jesus, who was crucified, died, and rose again is Pope Benedict XVI's "dream," yet it is not a dream; it is reality.  Among the many witnesses, ask the Apostle Thomas. 

Still in doubt?  Force the belief and pray: "I believe, help Thou my unbelief!" (Mark 9:24) 
The belief will satisfy the natural thirst you have for justice.

-----

Andrew M. Greenwell is an attorney licensed to practice law in Texas, practicing in Corpus Christi, Texas.  He is married with three children.  He maintains a blog entirely devoted to the natural law called Lex Christianorum.  You can contact Andrew at agreenwell@harris-greenwell.com.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for October 2014
Peace:
That the Lord may grant peace to those parts of the world most battered by war and violence.
World Mission Day: That World Mission Day may rekindle in every believer zeal for carrying the Gospel into all the world.



Comments


More Living Faith

Christians shouldn't badmouth others, Pope warns Watch

Image of People are

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Speaking at his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square this week, Pope Francis says that Christians must set a good example lest they drive people away into atheism. "How many times we've heard in our neighborhoods, 'Oh that person over there always goes ... continue reading


'Structural causes' of poverty must be dismantled, Pope tells activists Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In a wide-ranging speech to activists, Pope Francis urged the gathered to join the fight against the "structural causes" of poverty and inequality, calling for a "revolutionary" program drawn from the Gospels. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "The poor no ... continue reading


God's existence does not contradict the discoveries of science, Pope Francis says Watch

Image of The pontiff reassured that the Big Bang theory, as well as the theory of evolution do not eliminate the existence of God.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

God remains the one who set all of creation into motion, Pope Francis told the Pontifical Academy of Sciences this week. The pontiff reassured that the Big Bang theory, as well as the theory of evolution do not eliminate the existence of God. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


Yesterday's Faith is Not Enough: How We Can Overcome Pride Watch

Image of Monks in prayer

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

Jesus continued to do what the Father had sent Him to do, in spite of opposition from apparently religious people. We are invited to follow his example. He will give us the grace to do so, if we ask Him. St Josemaria Escriva used a phrase to refer to the kind of ... continue reading


Christian rapper comes out of the closet --as straight Watch

Image of Jackie Hill-Perry is living testament to the power of God to change those who are willing to accept Him.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Christian rapper, Jackie Hill-Perry has come out of the closet --as straight. Hill-Perry says she experienced gender confusion after being sexually abused as a child and sought same-sex relationships until she says God helped her to change for the better. LOS ANGELES, ... continue reading


Every Christian is 'to create unity in the Church,' Pope Francis declares Watch

Image of This creating of unity in the Church, the Pope said, recounting the reading from Saint Paul to the Philippians,

By CNA/EWTN News

In his homily for Mass at the Santa Marta residence on Oct. 24, Pope Francis reflected on the call of Christians to perpetuate unity in the Church by being "living stones" built upon the "cornerstone of Christ." Vatican City (CNA/EWTN News) - This creating of ... continue reading


Abolish death penalty and life imprisonment, Pope Francis declares Watch

Image of The Vatican recently eliminated life imprisonment from its own penal code, Pope Francis noted.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Calling for the abolition of the death penalty as well as life imprisonment, Pope Francis soundly denounced what he called a "penal populism." The world's prescribed cure for crime - punishment, should never overtake the pursuit for social justice, he says. LOS ... continue reading


Making a Difference - Newly beatified pope championed justice and peace

Image of Pope Paul VI addresses the UN during his 1965 appeal for peace.

By Tony Magliano

With numerous armed conflicts raging in various parts of the world, and the Vietnam War worsening, Pope Paul VI on Oct. 4, 1965 proclaimed before the U.N. General Assembly: "No more war, war never again. It is peace, peace which must guide the destinies of peoples and ... continue reading


'War does not begin in the battlefield. Wars begin in the heart,' Pope Francis says Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Speaking at his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square, Pope Francis addressed the topic of war. With the majority of the world engaged in some sort of battle, and it's up to the individual to realize that major conflicts begin with little things. LOS ... continue reading


Finding the Path to Peace Through Forgiveness Watch

Image of For he (Jesus) is our peace, he made both one and broke down the dividing wall of enmity, through his Flesh, abolishing the law with its commandments and legal claims, that he might create in himself one new person in place of the two, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile both with God, in one Body, through the cross, putting that enmity to death by it. He came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near, for through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father- St Paul

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

In 1999 I was a part of Project Reconciliation led by a true peacemaker, paralyzed police officer Detective Steven McDonald. This trip was a part of Steven McDonald's mission of preaching peace through forgiveness. It had the goal of helping to heal the wounds ... continue reading


All Living Faith News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Ephesians 6:10-20
10 Finally, grow strong in the Lord, with the ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 144:1, 2, 9-10
1 [Of David] Blessed be Yahweh, my rock, who trains ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 13:31-35
31 Just at this time some Pharisees came up. 'Go ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 30th, 2014 Image

St. Alphonsus Rodriguez
October 30: Confessor and Jay brother, also called Alonso. He was born in ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter