"If we have been united with him in a death like his..."

If we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.

[And] we know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. (Rom 6.5,9)

These lines appeared in the Easter vigil readings. And they brought to mind thoughts I've had on the question of aggression raised yesterday. Why would Jesus come preaching "turn the other cheek," if our natural aggression is actually beneficial to our survival and physical well-being?

I do accept that natural, instinctual aggression does help a species survive. It helps in the continuation of life on earth. Which is a fine raison d'ĂȘtre for animals and insects. But for human beings? With our consciousness of the inevitability of death (of ourselves, and also our family lines and, eventually, even every human memory of our existence) doesn't "survival" become a rather futile-feeling pursuit? Is this all there is to our lives?

Those words of Paul I quoted suggest that it is (or can be) different for us human beings. And in Jesus' living and his dying—and in his continued, unending life—we see this difference demonstrated quite clearly. Death had "no dominion over him."

A life governed by the struggle for survival is a life driven by the fear of death. This is the natural life. But Jesus called us to something much more. The life that is not threatened by death, the spiritual life that does not end, the life which is not meant for the constant struggling for survival but which is created to seek and to find union with God. With the Source of all life. With Love himself.

Jesus' words and actions showed us what that life, that union with God, looks like. And the more we understand the reality and complexity of the natural life (including its instinctual aggressiveness), as well as its almost complete universality among human beings, the more deeply we can appreciate the contrast of Jesus' life.

His is the life we are offered—"if we have been united with him in a death like his..."