Friday, April 19, 2024

The Only God the Gospel Knows

The only God
the Gospel knows
is the One revealed
in the Incarnation,
the Cross and the Creation,
as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. (Colossians 1:15-20)

For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power. (Colossians 2:9-10)

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

The Continuity of All Things

Though the world be in chaos, Jesus Christ is the continuity of all things. For in Him all things consist and hold together — in Him who is the same yesterday, today and forever. And He is making all things new.

For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:16-17)

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)

Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.” (Revelation 21:5)

Monday, April 15, 2024

They Speak of Him

If we find something in the Scriptures but we do not find it in Jesus Christ, then we are not reading them correctly, for they speak of Him. Lord Jesus taught that the Scriptures are about him. If we read them as being about anything other than Christ, we are not reading them as Scripture.

One thing this means is that any interpretation of Scripture that is contrary to what Lord Jesus did and taught is an interpretation we should reject. Likewise, any interpretation of Scripture that portrays God in any way contradictory to how he is revealed in our Lord Jesus Christ is an interpretation we should reject. For Jesus Christ is the full and perfect revelation of God, the image of the invisible God.

Saturday, April 13, 2024

Where We Encounter Christ

Christ is clothed with the Scriptures,
embodied in them and truly present in them,
that there we may encounter him.

So he said to them, “You foolish people – how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Wasn’t it necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and enter into his glory?”

And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.”

So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:27-32)

The two disciples on the road to Emmaus encountered the Risen Lord not only by his physical presence with them but also as he opened up the Scriptures to them. Their hearts burned within them, though it was only later that they realized why, when the Lord opened their eyes and they recognized him in the breaking of the bread. Notice that there was a double action of unveiling. 

First, there was the opening of all the Scriptures, of what Moses and all the Prophets said, revealing that they are about him and the things it was necessary for him to suffer as he entered into his glory. The Greek word for “opened” here is dianoigo and means to open up thoroughly. Christ opened up the Scriptures to them, thoroughly expounding and explaining their meaning — which is Christ himself, his suffering and his glory. This unveiling of Christ in the Scriptures was so stunning and unexpected, and yet so thoroughly coherent, the hearts of the two disciples were ignited by it.

Second, there was the opening of their own eyes. Again, the Greek word is dianoigo. It happened when Jesus took the bread, blessed the bread and broke the bread before their eyes. And suddenly they recognized Jesus in their midst.

When they recognized him, his physical form disappeared from before their physical eyes, for they had encountered him and learned to recognize him in the opening of the Scriptures and in the Breaking of the Bread. We in the Church today are no less advantaged than the Emmaus disciples, for Christ is always with us, and we always have the opportunity to encounter him in the Word and in the Sacrament.

The image above is Supper at Emmaus (1601) by Caravaggio.

Monday, April 8, 2024

Creation, Incarnation and Inclusion

Inclusion is not something we can create but something we can only discover. What we discover in the gospel is that all are included in Christ from the very beginning and to the very end.

We are included in Christ by the Creation. In Colossians 1:15-17, St. Paul tells us that all are created by Christ, through Christ, for Christ and in Christ, and in Christ all Creation consists and holds together.

The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

We are included in Christ through the Incarnation, in which Christ became human being. There are many human persons, but there is only one human being, of which we all partake. In the Incarnation, Christ became human being; he defines what it means to be human, and showed us at the Cross exactly what being human, and being divine, looks like — it looks like self-giving, other-centered love.

We are included in Christ at the Cross. For in the death of Christ, we all died. This is a necessary consequence of the Incarnation, by which Christ united divinity with humankind, joining himself with all humankind. Paul said, “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died” (2 Corinthians 5:14).

We are included in Christ in the Resurrection and the Ascension. In Ephesians 2, Paul says,

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions — it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:4-7)

In the Resurrection, Human Being, which Christ has become and of which we all partake, was raised from the dead. And by that resurrection, human being has been born again. St. Peter said, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3).

In the Ascension, Human Being, of which we all partake, ascended to the right hand of the Father, and so all humankind is seated there with Christ, in Christ, forever and ever.

The purpose of this inclusion is deliverance from death, from the power of the death (who held the power of death), from the fear of death (Hebrews 2:14), and so from the power of sin. That we may live unto God (Romans 6:11). That, through Christ, we may become partakers of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4), and enjoy divine union with God, experiencing forever the relationship with the Father and the Holy Spirit that Lord Jesus knows and experiences.

If, as the gospel shows, all are included in Christ, partaking of the one Human Being, who is Jesus Christ, then we cannot ignore anyone, for we are all part of each other. Apart from each other, we cannot finally know the fullness of our humanity, nor can we finally know the fullness of humanity’s union with God, which is revealed in Jesus Christ. 

The Good News of the Gospel is that
All are in Christ by the Creation and
Christ is in All by the Incarnation.

Friday, April 5, 2024

Deeply Connected With One Another

The Incarnation Means That
We are Deeply and Inextricably
Connected to One Another,
for Christ is Deeply and
Inextricably United with
All Humankind.

Though there are many human persons, there is only one human being, only one way of being human, of which we all partake. Christ, who is the Creator of all and from all derive their being, is being itself. By the Incarnation, he has united with all humankind by becoming Human Being.

This means that humankind, which was once defined by and headed up in Adam, is now defined by and headed up in Christ. And this is why St. Paul can speak so inclusively concerning Adam and Christ.

For if, by the trespass of the one man [Adam], death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God's abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ! Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. (Romans 5:17-18)

But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. (1 Corinthians 15:20-22)

This deep and inseparable connection of Christ with all humankind, and of all humans persons with each other, means that, if there are any who are not finally restored, then none of us will ever fully be restored. There will always be something missing. Humankind — Human Being — will be eternally diminished.

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

The Way of the World is Undone

The way
of the world
is violence. 

The way of Christ,
the way of the Cross,
is the undoing of violence.

If we do not understand
the solution, it is because
we have not sufficiently
understood the problem.

The Cross of Christ turns the way of the world on its head. Jesus of Nazareth, who by wicked hands was put to the violence of crucifixion, by that same Cross put death itself to death. Peter preached about this at Pentecost, in Acts 2.

“Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.” (Acts 2:22-24)

“God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it. Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said, ‘The Lord said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”’ Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”  (Acts 2:32-36)
In his letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul speaks of this same upending of the way the world thinks, putting everything right side up. What is thought by the world to be foolishness turns out to be the very wisdom of God. The wisdom by which God created the heavens and the earth is the same wisdom by which God finally puts the world right, the wisdom of the Cross.
“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.’ Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.  Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength ... It is because of [God] that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God — that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.” (1 Corinthians 1:18-25, 30)

Monday, March 25, 2024

The Fullness of Time

The coming of Christ into the world is the end of time. He is the fulfillment, the fullness of time. His Incarnation is the union of eternity with time in such a way that time is transfigured. Past, present and future become one in our Lord Jesus Christ.

But when the fullness [pleroma] of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. (Galatians 4:4-5 NKJV)

In Ephesians 1:9-10, Paul speaks of God’s eternal plan and pleasure: “He made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment [pleroma] — to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.” 

The pleroma or fullness of time is the completion of time, its purpose being fulfilled, or filled full. Christ Crucified and Risen is not only the fulfillment of time but he is also the completion of all things. He is at once both the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last, the Alpha and the Omega, who was and is and is to come (Revelation 1:8). In Christ, it is all one.