In an Easter reflection titled, “A Faith that Loves the Earth,” Karl Rahner highlighted some of the ways that the Resurrection is significant for the entirety of creation. Like Sts. Paul and Irenaeus before him, Rahner had a rich notion of salvation as the recapitulation of the whole world or, put another way, all of creation’s return back to God. Rahner does a number of interesting things in this meditation, including recalling what it means to be ha-adamah — created “from the earth” — as the Book of Genesis reminds us, understanding the centrality of death in the pilgrimage of life, and the importance of remembering that Easter isn’t just about humanity. Here are just a few snippets of what he has to say on these few themes.
On Being Creatures
“We are children of this earth. Birth and death, body and earth, bread and wine are our life; and the earth is our homeland…We are of the earth. We can become disloyal to it because of our stubbornness or self-aggrandizement, which would not be proper for the children of this humble, serious Mother Earth; or we can be loyal because, after all, we have to be who we are, meaning that we are united with earth’s secret pain, which we feel deep inside our own being.”
On the Significance of Christ’s Death
“He who is both the son of God and a human being has died … The one who has died is, therefore, both the son of God’s perfected nature and the child of earth’s poverty … We may say that he died, but we need to add immediately that he also descended to the dead and rose. We need to add this in order to free his death from overtones of fleeing the world, overtones that we are inclined to add. Jesus himself said that we would descend into the heart of the earth (Mt 12:40), namely to the heart of all earthly things, where everything is interconnected and one, to the seat of death and earth’s impermanence … Especially because he died, he belongs to the earth, for putting someone’s body into earth’s grave means that the person (or the soul, as we would say) who has died enters not only into relationship with God but also into that final union with the mysterious ground of being, where all space-time elements are tied together and have their point of origin … He is risen in order to reveal that by his death there remains forever implanted into earth’s narrowness and pain, within her heart, the life of freedom and blessedness.”
On the Cosmic View of Easter
“[Christ] also has to burst open the grave of our heart, to rise from the center of being where he is the power and the promise. There he is still in the process of doing this. There it is still Holy Saturday until the last day, which will be the day of Easter for the entire cosmos. Such a resurrection happens in the freedom of our faith. Even there it is his deed. But it is his deed occurring as ours: as loving faith that allows us to be brought along on this unimaginable journey of all earthly reality headed toward its own glory, a journey that started with the resurrection of Christ.”