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I am a Third Order Franciscan of the Province of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Blessed be Jesus Christ, True God and True Man

This is another of my continuing reflections upon the Divine Praises. If you have missed any and wish to go back and look at them, they can be found here:

Part 1
Part 2

This single phrase, "Blessed be Jesus Christ, True God and True Man" sums up the reality of our entire salvation and has been the focus of theological debate from the earliest days of the Church. From the proclamation of the decrees of the Council of Nicea to the publications of the Jesus Seminar today people continue to give many answers to Jesus' question to Peter - "Who do you say that I am?"

As St. Athanasius showed and believed, unless in Jesus Christ lies the fullness of divinity, unless Jesus Christ is God as God is God, then we have not been saved. We cannot save ourselves. We can separate ourselves from God, and we have done that, but we cannot save ourselves. The gap between ourselves and God is simply too great.

Yet, unless in Jesus Christ lies the fullness of humanity, we have also not been saved. As the Cappadocian Fathers proclaimed - "What is not assumed is not saved." While only God can save us, it is our humanity that needed saving.

The tremendous miracle of Jesus Christ is that the one who is so far above us deigned to become just like us in everything that makes us really human. In Jesus Christ the separation was ended, our redemption was attained and salvation has come. He indeed is that ladder between heaven and earth on which the angels ascend and descend and upon which we can also climb higher and higher into union with the Father.

In the past, the Church struggled against those who would deny the real humanity of Jesus. They believed that humanity was bad, it was corrupt, it was limited. Surely, they thought, God would never deign to truly become something so totally different from what He is. So, they see in Jesus a ghost, a spirit, but never a human being. But, the Church knows that in the Incarnation, Crucifixion and Resurrection that God showed that goodness of our humanity. Jesus willingly assumed our humanity - and more than that, he glorified it. He healed the sick in our humanity, he raised the dead in our humanity, he ascended into heaven in our humanity. And now Jesus Christ, true man, sits at the right hand of the Father.

Today, the Church struggles against those who would deny the real divinity of Jesus. Some cannot understand the mystery of the Incarnation. Surely, they believe, that if Jesus Christ is truly like us he cannot be divine. So, Jesus Christ becomes the good teacher, the rebel, the philospher but never truly God as the Father is God. But again the Church knows that it is in the Incarnation, Crucifixion and Resurrection that God shows his love for humanity and the glory of humanity. The one who is totally transcendent has become completely intimate with us. And so, we to can become completely intimate with him. In the humilty of Jesus, we can be come glorified. We too can become like God - in so far as that is humanly possible. We can become united with God without sacrificing our humanity, without sacrificing anything that makes us who we really are.

And so, when we praise Jesus Christ, True God and True Man, we praise our salvation and proclaim our belief that through Jesus Christ we have indeed been saved and united to the one who made us so that we might spend eternity with him. We proclaim the love of God, the mercy of God, the transcendence of God, the humility of God. We praise the divinity that saves and the humanity through which salvation was achieved.

Blessed are you Jesus Christ.
You humbled yourself to become one like us in all things but sin
So that we might become like you.
Through your life, death and resurrection,
We who had become lost can now call God Father.
May we follow in your footsteps every day,
Growing in your holiness,
Growing in your love,
Coming home.


Blogger Kevin Miller said...

Great series of reflections (and more generally great blog)! Interesting that you're thinking about the Divine Praises - I mentioned them in a brief post on yesterday's feast.

11:23 AM  

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