January 14, 2017

We are Not a "People of the Book". We are a People of the Word — Jesus Christ

Jesus

Although often described as such, the Christian faith is not a “religion of the Book”, but of the Word of God, Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages. We do not merely subscribe to a millennia old collection of objective moral commands. We bow to a Person, a historical and ever living “Someone”, who won our salvation by paying the ultimate ransom for man’s sins. In the words of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, our Faith is “not a written and mute word, but incarnate and living”. The fact that God would assume our humanity, even unto death, as the exemplar of love. marks Christianity apart.

The Evangelist Saint John opens his unique Gospel by describing with majestic succinctness, Christ’s singular role in effecting the Divine Economy of Salvation. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race, the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” John 1:1-5. Christ, our light, will not be overcome!

Echoing John's brilliant theology, Saint Athanasius of Alexandria's reflects on Christ’s Incarnation: “As, then, he who desires to see God Who by nature is invisible and not to be beheld, may yet perceive and know Him through His works, so too let him who does not see Christ with his understanding at least consider Him in His bodily works and test whether they be of man or God. If they be of man, then let him scoff; but if they be of God, let him not mock at things which are no fit subject for scorn, but rather let him recognize the fact and marvel that things divine have been revealed to us by such humble means, that through death deathlessness has been made known to us, and through the Incarnation of the Word the Mind whence all things proceed has been declared, and its Agent and Ordainer, the Word of God Himself... assumed humanity that we might become God." (On the Incarnation of the Word, Chapter 8, ¶ 54.

It should hearten us greatly that Christ, through whom all things came to be, is the One through whom all things will be renewed. He made himself nothing and died so we could live and gain everything. No matter how difficult our lives become, He remains with us. He has shown us the way. In the fullness of time, he will wipe away every tear, if we persevere in love. Almighty God, who gladdens us year by year as we wait in hope for our redemption grant that, just as we joyfully welcome your Only Begotten Son as our Redeemer, we may also merit to face him confidently when he comes again as our Judge. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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