Blog # 391 The Resurrected Jesus
Each Sunday we proclaim our faith in the Incarnation , death, Resurrection, and Ascension into Heaven of the Eternal Word of God :We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,...eternally begotten of the Father...begotten, not made...He came down from Heaven; by the power of the Holy Spirit ... He became man... was crucified...rose from the dead and ascended into Heaven, and sits at the right hand of the Father." In line with the truth these words of faith express, we believe Jesus was like us in all of our humanness but our sin. (Heb. 4: 15).
In our official liturgical celebration of the story of the life of Jesus each year, we celebrate this faith in the identity of Jesus as God and yet as one of us, human and divine. In Jesus, God, with human eyes saw the same sun moon and stars as we. In Him God walked from Jerusalem to Jericho, ate, laughed, felt sorrow, joy and hunger, talked, prayed, grew tired and went to sleep. Then, as we are humanly destined to do, He died.
We have Christmas, the Sermon on the Mount, the Crucifixion. In the Bible story of the life of Jesus and in liturgical celebrations of His life we have clear evidence of the humanity of Jesus, His patience, kindness, generosity, self-giving human love. But at the same time we have continuing evidence of His divinity in the stories of His miracles, the voice declaring Him the Father's beloved Son, and the transfiguration.
In the Feasts of the Resurrection and Ascension we celebrate something new and essentially different. In His and in our birth until His and our death we hare a common human experience, unique in Him and unique in each of us, yet common to Him and to us all. In His death and in ours our human story ends. We are joined to the humanity of Jesus through the Biblical stories of His human experience on earth in a way similar to the way we may be joined to other human personages who have gone on before us such as George Washington, Terese of Calcutta, Francis of Assisi ,
neighbors, blood relatives, and friends. We remember them and they are at that moment in a sense real for us.
In the Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus is given His eternal identity. Up until His death He was like us in all but sin. In His resurrection and ascension He is forever glorified in His personal experience,human and divine, of the eternal life of Heaven. In the will or plan of God, we, united with Jesus by faith and Baptism, are called to share that same identity by faith in our own unique limited human way. Each of the Sacraments is a sign of our union with Jesus in His eternal life of glory, by faith until our death, then by the experience of Heaven. In this transition and experience, God's faithfulness to His pledge or covenant, and the authority of the Bible and the Church is proven true. Faith and hope will no longer be needed. We shall have become the person God desired us to be, from all eternity. Our relationship with God and one another will be so secure God's love for us and our love for God and one another will never again be threatened or challenged by temptation, or diminished by sin.
I found the following quotation written by St. Leo the Great in the fifth century as part
of a homily on the feast of the Ascension of Our Lord helpful in understanding and appeciating the important insight he shares with regard to our Sacramental theology and eternal life in Jesus.
"On this Feast ( the Ascension) we are commemorating that day on which our poor human nature was carried up in Christ, above the highest heavenly powers to the very throne of God the Father. It is upon this ordered structure of divine acts that we have been firmly established, so that when in spite of the withdrawal from our sight of everything that is rightly felt to command our reverence, faith does not fail, hope is not shaken, charity does not grow cold...our Redeemer's visible presence has passed into the Sacraments. Our faith is nobler and stronger because it has been replaced by a doctrine whose authority is accepted by believing hearts, enlightened from on high...Throughout the world women no less than men have given their blood in the struggle for this faith...The truth is that the Son of Man was revealed as Son of God in a more perfect and transcendent way once He had entered into His Father's glory. He now began to be indescribably more present in His divinity to those whom he was further removed in His humanity...reached not by physical handling but by discernment."
I wonder how many people realize the meaning beauty and importance of what he is talking about here and how many have ever applied it to our Sacramental experiences. St. Leo wrote it in the fifth Century. I have come to understand and appreciate it more clearly just last week! Come. Holy Spirit! is my prayer!
A Sacrament is defined as an outward sign instituted by Christ to give Grace.