Imagining The Eternal Risen Christ

In my reading travels I’ve come across two quotes which articulate an extraordinarily expansive imagining of The Eternal Risen Christ. (They’re not quick reads! I found them worth several careful readings.)

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“[F]or the Gospel is not merely the narration of what has been; it is the sublime narration of what is and what always will be. Ever will the Savior of the world be adored by the kings of intelligence, represented by the Magi; ever will He multiply the eucharistic bread, to nourish and comfort our souls; ever, when we invoke Him in the night and the tempest, will He come to us walking on the waters, ever will He stretch forth His hand and make us pass over the crests of the billows; ever will He cure our distempers and give back light to our eyes; ever will He appear to His faithful, luminous and transfigured upon [Mount] Tabor, interpreting the law of Moses and moderating the zeal of [Elijah].”

— E. Levi

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(This quotation refers to historical figures who may be unfamiliar to some readers, so after this quote I’ve listed them with a brief explanation of who they were.)

“His [the Christ’s is] the patient labor which strengthened soul after soul to endure through the darkness, and cherish within itself the spark of mystic longing, the thirst to find the Hidden God. His the steady inpouring of truth into every brain ready to receive it, so that hand stretched out to hand across the centuries and passed on the torch of knowledge, which thus was never extinguished. His the Form which stood beside the rack and in the flames of the burning pile, cheering His confessors and His martyrs, soothing the anguish of their pains, and filling their hearts with His peace. His the impulse which spoke in the thunder of Savonarola, which guided the calm wisdom of Erasmus, which inspired the deep ethics of the God-intoxicated Spinoza. His the energy which impelled Roger Bacon, Galileo, and Paracelsus in their searchings into nature. His the beauty that allured Fra Angelica and Raphael and Leonardo da Vinci, that inspired the genius of Michelangelo, that shone before the eyes of Murillo, and that gave the power that raised the marvels of the world, the Duomo of Milan, the San Marco of Venice, the Cathedral of Florence. His the melody that breathed in the masses of Mozart, the sonatas of Beethoven, the oratorios of Handel, the fugues of Bach, the austere splendor of Brahms. His the Presence that cheered the solitary mystics, the hunted occultists, the patient seekers after truth. By persuasion and by menace, by the eloquence of a St. Francis and by the gibes of a Voltaire, by the sweet submission of a Thomas à Kempis, and the rough virility of a Luther, He sought to instruct and awaken, to win into holiness or to scourge from evil. Through the long centuries He has striven and labored, and, with all the mighty burden of the Churches to carry, He has never left uncared for or unsolaced one human heart that cried to Him for help.

— A. Besant

Savonarola (1452 – 1498): a firebrand Catholic priest whose relentless criticism of corruption in the Church, defying the edict of the Pope to stand down, earned him martyrdom. Luther (1483–1546) counted him an important inspiration.

Erasmus (1466-1536): a towering scholar of the Renaissance, edited the first Greek New Testament ever published in the West (essentially the Greek New Testament text used by both Luther and the King James translators). He agreed with the Protestants that profound corruption in the Church needed to be reformed, but pleaded with both sides to find a way to accomplish that from within, without splitting the Church.

Spinoza (1632-1677): an early thinker of the Enlightenment. Einstein named Spinoza as the philosopher who exerted the most influence on his world view.

Roger Bacon (1219/20–c. 1292): a medieval English philosopher and Franciscan friar who placed considerable emphasis on the study of nature through empiricism, making him one of the earliest European advocates of the modern scientific method.

Paracelsus (1494-1541): a Swiss physician, alchemist, lay theologian, and philosopher of the German Renaissance.

Thomas à Kempis (1380-1471):  Author of The Imitation of Christ, one of the most popular and best known Christian devotional books.