|The early Christians described themselves as 'the living'.|
Now that we know, thanks to the excellent work, 'Jesus of Nazareth Part II' by Pope Benedict XVI, that the early Christians went by the name of 'the living' (which, incidently, isn't a bad band name), does that shed new light on the phrase from the Creed, that Christ will return to judge 'the living and the dead'?
I was involved in a discussion today about it. The upshot seemed to be no, in a literal sense, concerning Christ's return, but yes, in another sense, in that those who are cut off from Christ are spiritually speaking, dead, since Christ is Life itself, the Resurrection and the Life, the Author of Life, the Way, the Truth, and the Life, the Living One, Who gives living water welling up unto Eternal Life. When Christ returns, according to St Paul, some will be alive, some will be dead, yet taking up on what the Holy Father said, there is a sense in which even among those alive when the Lord comes, some shall be considered as the living and some, the dead. In the Gospels, a man comes to Jesus asking if he can first bury his father before following Him, only for the Lord to say, "Let the dead, bury their dead." Following Christ is urgent because He is Life itself. Interesting that the Lord, in the parable of the prodigal son, describes the returning son in terms of death and life, "Because this my son was dead, but has come to life again." In the Eucharistic discourse in the Gospel of St John, the Lord Jesus speaks of Himself as being the 'Bread of Life' and that if we do not eat His flesh and drink His blood, we have 'no life in' us.
Apart from Christ is only death, temporal, spiritual and eternal. Only in Christ do we or can we find 'life in all its fullness'. Our Lord Jesus Christ gives us life. He alone can give life, through His Holy Catholic Church, through the Sacraments which reconcile us to God, giving us life through Baptism, Confession and through Holy Communion. Therefore when the Lord, said, "I put before you today death and life, choose life," for us now it means choose Jesus Christ, the Living One, to Whom belong 'all time and ages, forever and ever'. The Pope's startling reference to the early Christians' self-description as, 'the living', enhances even those 'life' issues so hotly contested by the World, such as artificial contraception, abortion, homosexual culture and marriage, IVF, divorce, euthanasia. In all of these things, it is perhaps only union with Jesus Christ through His Sacraments in the Church that creates and defines the dividing line between the culture of life and the culture of death, between the 'living and the dead'.