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The Resurrection of Christ A.M. Ramsey


he Gosels are works of an entirely novel and unique literary characer. Tey are not biographies, for they pay litle atention to the psychology of a hero and to many


of those asects of a life which are dear to a biographer. Tey are Gosels. Tey are writen to tell of the events whereby the Reign of God came. Te human story is told, as alone it survived to be told, in the frame of the Gosel of God. Te Gosels reproduce the patern of the preaching of the Apostles from the earliest days. Finally there comes the Fourth Gosel bearing the name of


John. Here the double persective, that has been apparent at every stage of the apostolic writings, is seen with a secial and deliberate vividness. For in this baffling and glorious book we find a blending of


an emphasis upon the importance of historical fact with an emphasis upon those asects of the truth in Jesus Christ that lie beyond the historical events. Tis blending of two strains puzzles the reader, and has caused the book to be regarded as a kind of problem-piece among the writings about Jesus Christ. Is the author, we ask, giving us good history, supplementing and correcting the history provided by the earlier Gosels? or is he deserting history and leading us into the realms of mystical interpretation? Te problem has been baffling, for neither of


T his Easter will see the first


anniversary of the death of a friend and parishioner; a mum in her forties with two teenage girls. It was the end of a very long battle against cancer. Sadly I was minutes late when she died but when I arrived her whole family were gathered around the bed. Her husband said to their daughters, ‘What we must believe is that she is now in the care of one who loves her more than we do.’ Death does bring ‘troubled hearts’ as Jesus predicted, but it also brings its clarity. God loves us more than we can begin to imagine or think. This is what


John meant when he


wrote of Jesus’ actions on Maundy Thursday: ‘now he was to show them the full extent of his love.’ To be consoled and encouraged by the revelation of love is the whole purpose of our keeping Holy Week and Easter. If we ask the Lord to show us the full extent of his love for us through our involvement in the liturgy and in our own prayer and reflection he surely will. The focus for


12 ■ newdirections ■ April 2011


these alternatives seems wholly to correspond with the author’s purpose or wholly to explain all the characeristics of the book. But when we have perceived that the double persective


exists in all the apostolic writings and in all the apostolic teaching from the earliest days, then the Fourth Gosel appears in a less problematic light. For while it does indeed contain its own problems, its main problem is not a new one. It sums up the inevitable tension in apostolic Christianity, and enables a truer understanding of that tension. John writes in order that his readers may believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God and believing may have life in his name. With this end in view he will not allow his readers to ignore either of the two asects of Christianity. On the one hand he makes it clear that men in every age


may be in touch with Jesus Christ, risen and glorified, and may by believing on him and feeding on him possess eternal life. ‘He, the Paraclete, shall glorify me, for he shall take of mine and shall declare it unto you’. ‘Blessed are they that have not seen and yet have believed.’ Te Incarnation was the prelude to the greater works that the disciples would do when Jesus had gone to the Father, and to the closer union between the disciples and Jesus made possible by his departure. Here and now men may dwell in him, and he in them. But at the same time John is at pains to show that the


contemporary Christ is known aright and that union with him is possible only if the Christians are in a constant re lationship with the historical events of the Word-made-flesh. It is vital that the events really happened, events that men saw and heard and their hands handled. ‘Back to history’ is an avowed motive both in the Gosel and in the First Epistle of John.


From ‘Te Resurection of Christ’ by A.M. Ramsey (Colins Fontana, 1961) ND


Ghostly Counsel


Troubled hearts Andy Hawes is Warden of


Edenham Regional Retreat House


our prayer and adoration should be an earnest quest for this revelation of love. There are many huge questions that


circle the mind and heart in Holy Week. Many questions are asked: ‘who is it that will betray you?’ ‘Is it I?’ ‘What is truth?’ ‘Would you betray the son of man with a kiss?’ ‘Where do you come from?’ ‘You Lord washing my feet?’ ‘Where are you going?’ ‘Can you not watch one hour?’ All these and many more penetrate the heart of our relationship with the Lord. It is not unusual to feel a sense of inner turmoil at the constant battering on our attitudes of mind and heart.


There is nothing wrong with being


shaken and stirred; sometimes we have to be asked the right questions to open up the interior doors of our spiritual life. But this should not be an end in itself. We must always go the next step and ask, ‘What does this reveal to me about God’s love, and how does it help me respond in a more loving way to the call of Christ?’ If any spiritual exercise does not help us to receive the ‘greatest gift’, we should begin to wonder, ‘Why do I bother?’ If we fast-forward to the resurrection


appearances of the Lord, we see that there are fewer questions and much more silent listening. When the Lord asks the question of Peter on the beach at dawn it is repeated three times, a litany of beseeching, and the question is very simple: ‘Do you love me?’ That is the question the Lord asks each one of us again this Holy Week and Easter. For as Mother Julian of knowledge learnt from a lifetime of contemplating the crucifixion of Our Lord, ‘love was his meaning’.


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