Monday, February 29, 2016

The word of Jesus

If Christ really is the supernatural Being that He claims to be in the Bible, and not some mythological character that the Church has put together over the course of (I don’t care how) many holy and great councils, then He can be approached as He is, anywhere, by anyone who believes in Him, by anyone who believes He is who He says He is in the Bible, without knowing the fine points of Christological dogma, without having partaken of any valid sacraments, even without being a deliberate member of the historic Church or any of its offshoots.
Anyone can approach Him and, by calling upon Him with faith, can be saved.

This is foreshadowed in the raising of Lazarus after four days on the faith of his sister in the word of Jesus that He is ‘the Resurrection and the Life’ and that ‘anyone who believes in’ Him, ‘though he be dead, yet shall he live’ (John 11:25).

This is enacted before the world in the justification of the good thief who, hanging on a cross next to Jesus, knowing with perfect certainty that himself along with Jesus would be dead within the hour, without having done anything good except what Jesus calls good, to ‘believe in the One whom God has sent’ (John 6:29), approached Christ knowing almost nothing about Him except who He is, asked Him only to be remembered when He entered into His Kingdom, to which Christ responded directly and immediately, ‘I tell you, this day you will be with Me in Paradise’ (Luke 23:43).

This is the story of many a ‘self-evangelized’ Christian whose perhaps well-meaning but inadequate sacramental baptism and subsequent minimal catechesis seems not to have taken root, and had to be restarted after the attainment of the age of reason, by any number or combination of life events and meetings in the world ‘outside the Church,’ some of whom found their way back to the visible, institutional Church, while others found peace and safety in the company of others like themselves.

What the Church needs to remind herself each day, from head to foot, from congregation to individual, is that the word of Jesus, that which He speaks in the Bible, is the power to save, to save all who have faith, to all who trust Him. The word of Jesus is the truth, and it is the truth that makes us free. That word is life-giving and liberating. Neither the power to save nor the truth are given exclusively to anyone or anything else, not even to the Church, except when she yields, gives way, to what the word of Jesus says. Otherwise we may, without realizing what we’re doing, ‘shut the Kingdom of God in men’s faces, without going in’ ourselves (Matthew 23:13). The Church will always be so much bigger than we think.

So remember, brethren, what the Church is: it is a pan-human reality, it is the human race in process of being integrated with the Divine Nature, the whole race not just ‘our part of it,’ and remember what the Message is:

For anyone who is in Christ, there is a new creation;
the old creation has gone, and now the new one is here.
It is all God's work.
It was God who reconciled us to Himself through Christ
and gave us the work of handing on this reconciliation.
In other words,
God in Christ was reconciling the world to Himself,
not holding men's faults against them,
and He has entrusted to us the news that they are reconciled.
So we are ambassadors for Christ;
it is as though God were appealing through us,
and the appeal that we make in Christ's name is:
Be reconciled to God.
For our sake God made the Sinless One into sin,
so that in Him we might become the goodness of God.
2 Corinthians 5:17-21

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