Tag Archives: Christology

The Twofold Coming of Christ

At this seventh day of Christmas, I am thinking of who it is we preach these days. A piece from Saint Cyril of Jerusalem is helpful to contextualize the question especially we are day before the Octave Day of Christmas: the giving of the Holy Name, the only one that truly saves us. The saint preached:

We do not preach only one coming of Christ, but a second as well, much more glorious than the first. The first coming was marked by patience; the second will bring the crown of a divine kingdom.

In general, whatever relates to our Lord Jesus Christ has two aspects. There is a birth from God before the ages, and a birth from a virgin at the fullness of time. There is a hidden coming, like that of rain on fleece, and coming before all eyes, still in the future.

At the first coming He was wrapped in swaddling clothes in a manger. At His second coming He will be clothed in light as in a garment. In the first coming He endured the cross, despising the shame; in the second coming He will be in glory, escorted by an army of angels.

We look then beyond the first first coming and await the second. At the first coming we said: Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. At the second we shall it again; we shall go out with the angels to meet the Lord and cry out in adoration: Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.

Pushing to know Jesus

In a treasure trove books on Christology (secondary theological reflection) we have densely packed pages reflection on the of Jesus and what it means to say He is the Christ. It seems to me that the theological and spiritual questions and research have to be re-oriented. What if we reflect on what Jesus says in the Gospels, and how he acts? Jesus asks Peter, “Who do you say I am?” AND NOT “Who do the theologians say that I am?” Jesus does not ask us what Fr. John Meyendorff or Fr. Alexander Schmemann, or Sr. Vassa Larin or NT Wright, or Fr. Hans Urs von Balthasar thought.

Knowing about Jesus is different than knowing Jesus. As to Peter so to us: “Who do you say that I am?”, a question that demands our own personal response based on our own personal experience of Jesus in prayer, divine Liturgy, Lectio Divina, and his subtle yet very real, mysterious presence in everyday life.

Theological reflection, first and second levels, are critical in having a comprehensive view of who Jesus Christ is. The personal encounter is a aided and challenged by theological reflection so as to keep us honest and correct. In today’s world we are tempted to think that any experience and any book is orthodox, that is, without error. We know by reason, however, this is incorrect. Knowing Jesus and not merely about Jesus is experienced with several contexts: worship (adoration), personal conversion, a communal life and works of charity; you can think of these points as pillars: prayer, study, community, and service. Truth is symphonic and verifiable. Book knowledge is useful but it is useless unless we are led us into a deeper relationship, a deeper engagement with Jesus. Otherwise, valuable space in the brain is wasted.

The Cross of Jesus defines our life

Jesus’ death on the cross was a sacrifice of expiation; it makes us understand both the gravity of sin as a rebellion against God and a rejection of his love, and the marvelous saving work of Christ which was offered humanity and which has restored us to grace and therefore to participation in God’s Trinitarian life and to the inheritance of eternal happiness.

Jesus’ passion and death on the cross give us the true and definitive meaning of life where the redemption is already realized in the perspective of eternity. Just as Christ is risen, so too we will rise in glory, if we have accepted his message and mission.

Saint Pope John Paul II
General Audience, March 1, 1989

To Abide in Jesus

One of St. John’s favorite words is the Greek verb menos which is usually translated as “abide” or “remain” or “continue.” He uses this word more than all other New Testament writers together and it is one of the richest words in his theological vocabulary. When he uses this word in reference to a person, it suggests a deeply personal and constant union. It would thus be contrasted with a contact that may be intense but which soon fades and has no lasting effect.

To abide in Jesus is to be attached to him in such a way that life would seem  impossible without him; Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless abide in me (15:4). To be detached from Jesus is to live a shadow life that has no real meaning and benefits no one in a permanent way It is a waste of precious time.

A Mystical Portrait of Jesus
Demetrius R. Dumm, OSB

Bring the divine ideal to reality

face-of-the-savior-lateran“Christ calls people to bring the divine ideal to reality. Only short-sighted people imagine that Christianity has already happened, that it took place, say, in the thirteenth century, or the fourth, or some other time. I would say that it has only made the first hesitant steps in the history of the human race. Many words of Christ are incomprehensible to us even now, because we are still Neanderthals in spirit and morals; because the arrow of the Gospels is aimed at eternity; because the history of Christianity is only beginning. What has happened already, what we now call the history of Christianity, are the first half-clumsy, unsuccessful attempts to make it a reality.”

Fr. Alexander Men

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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