A Valentine's Day Present (Eternally Yours)

You want love on St. Valentine’s Day? You’ve come to the right place. No, they do not call me Dr. Love, least of all my wife, who has the most and best information. I introduce you to St. Paul and his account of the significance of Jesus Christ’s resurrection, the one who loves us all and who loves us perfectly.

Earlier in 1 Corinthians 15 Paul focused on establishing the reality of Christ’s resurrection, by recounting the evidence for it, namely, the witnesses who experienced the risen Lord. In the passage for the Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time, 1 Cor. 15:12, 16-20, Paul unpacks what that means for our own lives, drawing the logical conclusions from Christ being raised. He states,

"If Christ is preached as raised from the dead, how can some among you say there is no resurrection of the dead?" (15:12)

The problem in Corinth is not that they doubt Christ’s resurrection, but that they doubt it has any implications for their own lives. The fact that some are saying there is "no resurrection of the dead" indicates that whatever life they are living now is the locus and end of their hopes. Paul denies this, arguing that Christ’s resurrection and the general resurrection are inextricably linked: you cannot have one without the other. "If the dead are not raised, neither has Christ been raised" (15:13). Paul goes further, intellectually ruthless as he challenges the Corinthians to think over the implications of their belief for their life as Christians.

"If Christ has not been raised, your faith is vain; you are still in your sins. Then those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are the most pitiable people of all." (15:16-19)

Paul pulls no punches here, theologically or rhetorically, for if faith in Christ is only for this life, this world, "we are the most pitiable people of all." It is not that Christ does not offer joy in this life, but if it is based upon falsehood, a lie ultimately, this false joy will dissipate even in this world. Paul gives it all back, though, brings the love as it were, in verse 20: "but now Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep." Christ’s resurrection is real, and Paul calls it the "firstfruits," technical language referring to the offering made to the Temple, the literal promise of the harvest to come. That was what Christ’s resurrection promises, and still promises today: our life eternal. If that is not the perfect St. Valentine’s Day present, eternal life in the presence of love, you must get way better chocolates than anyone I know. Though, I have to believe, there is chocolate in heaven.

John W. Martens

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