Week XXXI: Thursday

“For this is why Christ died and came to life, that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.” (Romans 14:9.)

Origen of Alexandria (part 2 of Pope Benedict’s reflections on Origen) comments on this verse from the First Reading proclaimed at Mass today:

“There are some people who think that Christ had to die in order to become the Lord of the dead and that he had to rise again in order to become the Lord of the living. But I think this assertion can be refuted as follows. Christ’s rule over all creation consists of two parts. First, by virtue of his majesty and power as the Creator of all things who rules the universe, he has everything in subjection, not only good and holy minds and spirits but also rebellious ones and those whom the Scriptures call “the wicked angels.”1 In this sense he is known as the Almighty, as John says in his Apocalypse: “Thus says the one who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”

Second, given that so good a Son of so good a Father does not want rational spirits to bend to the obedience of his law by force but waits for them to come voluntarily, so that they will seek what is good freely and not of necessity,3 he persuades them by teaching them rather than by commanding them and by inviting them rather than by forcing them. Thus he was pleased to go even to the point of death, in order to leave an example of new life and a way of dying for those who want to die to sin and evil. Christ is therefore Lord of both the living and the dead—of the living, because he is the head of those who by the example of his resurrection look for a new and heavenly life here on earth, and of the dead, because these same people bear the death of Christ about in their bodies4 and mortify their members which are on earth.” (Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans)

Almighty and merciful God,
by Whose gift Your faithful offer You
right and praiseworthy service,
grant, we pray,
that we may hasten without stumbling
to receive the things You have promised.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
Who lives and reigns with You
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Glory to the Father
and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen