Friday, April 27, 2012

Christ Crucified

"For both the Jews require signs, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews indeed a stumblingblock, and unto the Gentiles foolishness: But unto them that are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God." - 1st Corinthians 1:22-24

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God... That was the true light, which enlighteneth every man that cometh into this world... And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we saw his glory, the glory as it were of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth." - Gospel of St. John 1:1, 9, 14

"That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of LifeFor the Life was manifested; and we have seen and do bear witness, and declare unto you the Life Eternal, which was with the Father, and hath appeared to us..." - 1st John 1:1-2

St. Paul, writing around the mid-50's AD, shows that the early unity of Christians between the Gentile Greeks and the Jews consisted of the fact that Christ, the Lord of all, perfectly fulfilled at that time in history everything that the whole world was looking forward to. This is particularly evident in contrasting the Jews and the Greeks. Christ said while on this earth that the Jewish people would receive no sign except the Resurrection - and what a Sign! St. Paul refers to this sign here, by calling it "the Power of God." In the Resurrection, the power of the Triune God is on fullest display; in vanquishing death in glorious light, Christ is the true Sign Himself, crucified and risen from the dead, the truly dynamic and life-changing power of God.

St. Paul also says, however that Christ is the Wisdom of God. He also says that the Greeks seek after this 'wisdom.' This terminology is absolutely loaded when referring to the Greeks, and it is essentially equivalent to St. John's terminology employed in the first chapter of both His Gospel and His First Epistle, where he refers to Christ as the Logos, or the Word of God. St. Paul is here making a profound point: The Greeks had been seeking Wisdom, or Logos, for over four hundred years at this point. Philosophers among the Greeks had spoken elegantly of the Logos being essentially the Reason for human life, and for all life; the order behind all nature; and most profoundly, the 'niche' where man found his nature vindicated and his truest self fulfilled. A Greek philosopher might look at a fish in a pond, or a bird in the air, and observe how that creature was perfectly suited for it's environment. It 'fit' there, that was its 'niche' if you will; a fish did not have land as its proper place that it was suited for, and the bird did not have the water as its proper place, and if you took them and put them in the right place, only then did they survive and only then were they content. So, the Greeks reasoned, it is with man. Man has a place, a place where he makes sense, a place where he is supposed to be, and they were constantly seeking after this Place. They knew that, since man was Mind with Reason and not simply flesh, that this Place had to be the metaphysically and spiritually higher than man that justified his existence and where he could fit into the mystery of the cosmos. This place they called Logos, and St. Paul here is proclaiming the same glorious truth that St. John did some twenty or thirty years later in his writings: This Jesus of Nazareth, whom I preach to you, is the Logos made truly man, to partake of our flesh and blood, and divinize man whole and entire, body and soul. He is proclaiming to the Greeks that Christ crucified is the Logos Himself suffering in the flesh, truly the Wisdom and Word that they had been seeking for so many hundreds of years, now manifest before their eyes in the paschal mystery. Meditating upon this truth brings for a profound reality. The Greeks understood that the Logos represented the place where man fit and his ultimate meaning was found, and the place where His Reason resonated and reasoned off of; almost the cookie cutter to our cookie, you might say, the mold that we were imprinted from. A profound thought to remember is that this same Logos that they understand as the mold of humanity, Himself became that which was from the beginning created in His mold and image; that which was metaphysically higher than man, in which man found His nature vindicated, assumed that very nature. The Mold Himself once and for all definitively justified and made firm His haunting and familiar Voice that we hear enlightening our souls at every moment, the same Voice that enlightens even the man who still has never heard of that Voice made Flesh. That itch that man always wants to scratch, that part of him that he feels calling to Where He Does Not Know, from the muck of this world, appeared gloriously in the Flesh to say once and for all, 'Good people, you were made in My Image, and now I am sent into this world to Renew this holy Image that is so tarnished. You know in your heart that you are not animals, and I Am here; press on to know Me, and let me incorporate you into the Mold from which you were from clay formed. Partake of your origin and destiny in My Eucharist, and never be hungry or thirsty again.' This cannot be meditated upon too much, for it is the heart of Christianity, and it is powerful. It resonates with everything we know about human nature, and confirms the divine image in man.

Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us. Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us.