Once again the world is groaning under the weight of oppression and rejection of God. It grows darker by the day throughout the world. I am offended and angered by these depredations, but the bigger part of me is filled with the sort of joyful anticipation I usually have before Christmas.

The Family of Man, The Family of Godby charliej373By Charlie JohnstonA little over 2,000 years ago, the world was groaning under the weight of tyranny, poverty and hopelessness. The poor Jewish people were, arguably, among the most hopeless. With their native land of Israel occupied by the Romans, their religious leaders had largely sold out and become enforcers for the Romans, as well. Many gave themselves over to disorder and despair. It was into this dysfunctional world that God chose to intervene directly, to come, Himself, to redeem and renew the world. He did not cast His lot with the mighty of His time, though, in time, He would have extensive interaction with them. He chose to cast His lot with the poor, the downtrodden, those who had the hope driven out of them by the depredations of both the Roman occupiers and the religious authorities who were supposed to defend the people of God, but instead joined in their fleecing.I wonder, often, at the full magnitude of the Incarnation.  The Son, the Second Person of the Trinity, came Himself, fully taking on our humanity in the fullness of time. I get troubled by some pious writers who maintain that Jesus knew He was God from the moment of His conception. If that were the case, He would not have been man at all, just God in a Halloween mask. Frankly, I get annoyed at almost any hagiography of any saint that makes them into plaster icons of impossible virtue who never had to struggle with anything. On the one hand, it robs them of their triumph; on the other, what consolation is in it for anyone? If you have to be a plaster icon of improbable virtue throughout your life to qualify, who among us can be saved?I know it sometimes startles people to have someone who has spoken of mystical experiences so love the ordinary, but I DO love the ordinary, for I think it is in the ordinary mud and the blood and the strife of this life that our salvation is worked out. And I think there is something deeply noble and majestically beautiful about it, the transformation and transcendence that becomes possible with God.Thus, I think that Christ suspended His omnipotence when He took on our flesh, trusting to the other two Persons of the Trinity both to protect Him and guide Him to the full knowledge of His divinity over the course of His earthly life. That means that when He was an infant, he was wholly dependent on His earthly parents. He learned His trade from His earthly father, Joseph. After the temple, it is written that Jesus, “went down with them (Mary and Joseph) and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man.” (Luke 2:51, 52) It does not say that Jesus pretended obedience to His earthly parents, but that He WAS obedient to them. It does not say that His wisdom was unveiled to all, but that He actually grew in wisdom and stature. If He was fully aware of His omnipotence, how would it be possible for Him to grow into the knowledge of it?Jesus was always careful to see that all righteousness be fulfilled. Thus, He through whom all things were purified was taken, Himself, to be purified according to the law of Moses in the Presentation – and Simeon and Anna were profoundly blessed by His obedience. Jesus made this fully explicit when he went to be baptized by John the Baptist. (Matthew 3:13-17) John plaintively says to the Lord, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” Jesus responds, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.”Certainly, as the Lord grew in goodness and grace, He understood He was different and certainly had a profound sense of mission. In Matthew 4:1-11, Jesus went into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. The Scriptures do not say the devil tried to tempt Him, but that He was tempted by the devil. This is what happens to one who knows they have a mission and authority to carry out that mission, but has to grow in goodness and grace to fully understand what that mission is – the way of ordinary human development. Personally, I think that the 40 days in the wilderness was when Jesus fully connected all the dots in his Human Nature. It was all seamless from there – and He went forth to begin His public mission. I may be wrong, but that is the explanation that makes sense to me on how He was fully human and fully divine. It is also written of Jesus in Hebrews 2:7 that, “Thou didst make him for a little while lower than the angels…” Man is created lower than the angels. But there is more to the story, thanks to Jesus.In coming among us and taking on flesh, with all our sorrows, joys, weaknesses (except for a propensity to sin), and susceptibility to pain, the Eternal Son made Himself fully a member of the family of man. If He did not have to develop as we did, it would be a fraud. Jesus REALLY made Himself part of our family. After He began His public mission, He called His disciples from what were considered the lowlifes of His time. And since He was clearly something very big and chose to cast His lot with and share regular table fellowship with the lowlifes, it repudiated all human vanity. This heartened and ignited passionate new hope and joy among those oppressed “lowlifes” while infuriating the elite of His time – for Jesus’ ministry not only taught, but demonstrated, that the temporal power of the elite is a delusion and a fraud. It is not what is important.It is commonly asserted by the elite of all times that all men are “children of God.” But that is NOT what the Bible says. Rather, it says that “…to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God; who were born not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12,13) (emphasis mine). WE are given power to become children of God, but to so become, we must stretch out our hands to Him. Do not think you qualify just because you acknowledge Jesus as Lord: in the parable of the two sons (Matthew 21:28-32) Jesus makes clear that it is the one who does His will who is approved, not the one who merely says it. In this manner, then, Jesus did not just become one of the family of man; He gave us power to become one of the family of God. The angels, with all their fidelity, are and will always be, servants in the Kingdom of God. We, from our lowliness, are called by the Lord Himself to become heirs in the Kingdom of God.Having died and risen, Our Lord and Brother erased the power of death over all of us who call on Him and exercise the power He gave us to become children of God. The great breach at the time of the fall was completely healed for all who will accept it. We were raised after the Resurrection to a status we had not held even before the first man sinned. Can anyone with eyes fail to see the generous bounty of His love? And if He wills all of us to take the salvation He freely offers and hungers for, shouldn’t we, as joyfully dutiful children of God, hunger for the same thing He hungers for?So, if we call on Him, we should not worry about our own feebleness. We can do little of our own, but Christ can do all. And He so loves us that when we offer our brother, Christ, the little fish of virtue we can, He multiplies it to feed and fill a multitude. So I tell you, worry not over the flaws of your family and friends or the depredations that come from without. Just offer Him the little fish you have and watch Him multiply it to fill the earth in His own time. After all, He is one of the family to us – as we are to Him if we call upon Him.Once again the world is groaning under the weight of oppression and rejection of God. It grows darker by the day throughout the world. I am offended and angered by these depredations, but the bigger part of me is filled with the sort of joyful anticipation I usually have before Christmas. I sense that the time is near for Christ to intervene – and we are called to be the heralds of the Immaculate Heart as the time nears. When you reach down deep, can’t you feel, even with some pity, that it is almost over for the satan and his multitude of angry anti-God activists? Oh, let us devote ourselves to building and helping to nurture the family of God! And may your children and grandchildren and on to the 10thgeneration call you blessed for standing in the breach when the furious assault came against the City of God. Maranatha!*********

About abyssum

I am a retired Roman Catholic Bishop, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Texas
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